Take-Two takes smaller Q1 hit

2K and Rockstar Games owner suffers $21.5 million loss for November-January quarter, down from the year before.

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In two and a half weeks, the world will get its first look at Grand Theft Auto IV, the next installment in Rockstar Games' best-selling series. The game itself won't arrive on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 until October 16, and it will be the first all-new console installment in the series since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in 2004. (Two GTA games for the PlayStation Portable, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, were ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2006 and 2007, respectively.)

The lack of a new console Grand Theft Auto was a major reason that Rockstar parent Take-Two Interactive lost $29.5 million during the November 2005-January 2006 quarter. The company was also in the red one year later, reporting a net loss of $21.5 million for the November 2006-January 2007 quarter, the first of its 2007 fiscal year.

Revenue for the most recent quarter was $277.3 million, up from $265 million during the same period the year prior. That figure was better than expected. According to a Forbes survey, most analysts expected the company to take in $269.7 million in gross revenue. The publisher said its biggest sellers during the quarter were NBA 2K7, NHL 2K7, and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PS2. The company also enjoyed an income boost via the the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PS2 in Japan.

According to Take-Two, the biggest culprit for its quarterly loss was the "video game industry's ongoing transition to next-generation platforms." Take-Two's bottom line was also hurt by its lack of support for the Wii, which sold far better than most analysts predicted. Take-Two's first Wii game will be Manhunt 2, which is due out later this summer on Nintendo's platform and Sony's PS2.

Following a surge last week following reports of a possible shareholder coup, Take-Two shares ended the day at $20.07, down $0.20. As of press time, it was down a further penny in after-hours trading.

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