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Strong quarter keeps Midway in the game

Redstone considering taking the company private

Midway Games had a strong but slow third quarter and predicted it will return to profitability in the fourth quarter for the first time since 1999.

That’s good news for Sumner Redstone. Mogul took control of Midway last spring and is considering taking the company private. He has also attracted interest in a sale from several congloms, most notably his own Viacom.

After recently rewarding its Nickelodeon master vidgame license to publisher THQ, Viacom took the extraordinary step of putting out a statement saying it hopes to work with Midway on other projects. Conglom has also appointed three independent members of its board to consider a licensing deal with or acquisition of Midway.

Midway, which has several titles including “Spy Hunter” and “Area 51” in feature film development, wasn’t the only Hollywood player making vidgame news.

Disney consumer products chairman Andy Mooney confirmed at an analyst conference in New York that Mouse House is planning to increase its investment in vidgames through its own Buena Vista Games unit, particularly for handheld games. He added that the conglom might consider acquiring other vidgame publishers or developers if the deal was not dilutive to earnings.

Many investors present at the confab questioned whether Disney has been too cautious to expand its presence in vidgames, currently the fastest growing segment of the media business.

Midway reported $17 million in revenue for the third quarter, up 47% from a year ago, and a net loss of $16.1 million, down 40%. Company released only one game in the quarter, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, but also had continued strong sales of its NBA Ballers and the Suffering.

Midway said net income for the current quarter would be $17.5 million, based largely on the success of its recently released Mortal Kombat sequel.

Midway shares closed up 1% at $10.50 Monday before earnings were announced.

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