Lego Star Wars lifts SCi earnings

Eidos owner exceeds six-month sales target by $26.8 million; stock rises, guidance remains unchanged, as takeover rumors persist.

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When SCi Entertainment Plc purchased rival publisher Eidos Interactive Plc last year, it was considered to be a bit of a gamble. Today, though, it appeared that gamble had paid off, as SCi announced it had exceeded its internal earnings targets since the Eidos acquisition.

For the six months ending December 31, 2005, the company reported more than 40 million pounds ($71.4 million)--15 million pounds ($26.8 million) more than the company's internal projections. The news was a tonic to SCi's stock, as its share price rose 2.56 percent to close at 5.01 pounds ($8.94).

Why the big spike? The force of the Star Wars films--in lego form. "Additional sales arose primarily from the continued distribution of Lego Star Wars, on Sony PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Game Boy Advance," the company said in a statement to Reuters. The game has sold in excess of 3 million units over all platforms, according to the company, which said it did particularly well in the US.

In spite of today's news, SCi's outlook for the second half of its fiscal year remains guarded. "As the major portion of the Group's revenues arise in the second half of the financial year to 30 June 2006, the Group has not revised its internal budget for the financial year as a whole," SCi said in a statement. The period will see the release of the latest installments in two of Eidos' highest-profile franchises, Hitman: Blood Money (PC, PS2, Xbox) and Tomb Raider Legend (PC, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360). That said, it has gotten off to an inauspicious start, with the release of the controversial and critically drubbed 25 to Life (PC, PS2, Xbox).

Eidos also briefly commented on the rumors that it will itself soon be taken over. Last October, the UK-based publisher said it had been approached by possible suitors, one of which unconfirmed reports pegged as US-based Midway Games. "The Board remains in discussions and will update shareholders as to any developments when appropriate," the company said.

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