Analyst unimpressed by Stuntman's start

Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian says THQ racer's sales "slow off the blocks"; maintains buy rating.

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After posting a less-than-expected second-quarter net loss of $9.3 million last month, THQ reaffirmed its fiscal year 2008 guidance of $1.12 billion to $1.15 billion in net sales. THQ president and CEO Brian J. Farrell told analysts that the forecast hinged largely upon the projected platinum status of five internally developed multiplatform games: Frontlines: Fuel of War, MX vs. ATV Untamed, Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights, the latest Destroy All Humans!, and Stuntman: Ignition.

However, selling a million copies for at least one of those games may not be as done of a deal as THQ hoped. In a company note to investors, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian said early sales of Stuntman Ignition were "a little slow off the blocks" and "slower than originally anticipated." Sebastian noted that the over-the-top racer was experiencing a weak sell-through at retail and that restocking orders were "unlikely in the near-future."

Nevertheless, Sebastian remained optimistic on Stuntman's outcome. Provided that THQ invests in a more aggressive marketing campaign that includes "a free movie ticket and cable ads targeting a 'mass market' audience," Sebastian believes Stuntman: Ignition can reach platinum status by March 2008, the end of THQ's 2008 fiscal quarter.

The analyst also maintained THQ's "buy" rating on the strength of Juiced 2's and Ratatouille's upcoming European releases, as well as projected strong holiday sales for THQ's WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2008, Cars, SpongeBob, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and MX vs. ATV games.

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