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Blockbuster loses $41.9 million in quarter

Blockbuster Inc., the largest movie-rental chain, reported a wider second-quarter loss after an asset sale bolstered year-earlier results.

The net loss was $41.9 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with a loss of $31.4 million, or 18 cents, a year earlier, Dallas-based Blockbuster said Thursday. The loss adjusted for some costs missed analysts’ average estimate by 1 cent, driving the shares lower.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $28.2 million, lower than the $28.9 million average projection of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Blockbuster boosted its annual Ebitda forecast to as much as $315 million from a maximum of $310 million.

Operating earnings, compared to Wall Street estimates, were “a little light," even though Blockbuster raised its earnings guidance for the year, Arvind Bhatia, a Dallas-based analyst with Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., said in an interview.

Blockbuster fell 34 cents, or 11 percent, to $2.85 at 9:34 a.m. Eastern in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares dropped 18 percent this year before Thursday.

Excluding some costs, the loss was 20 cents a share, compared with the 19-cent average estimate of nine analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Six analysts predicted sales of $1.27 billion.

Revenue rose 3.3 percent to $1.3 billion. Sales at U.S. stores open at least a year jumped 14 percent, the second straight gain after two years without increases, after Chief Executive Officer Jim Keyes offered more new releases. U.S. merchandise sales climbed 69 percent.

The number of online subscribers grew to 3.2 million from 3.1 million, Keyes said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Worldwide sales at older stores advanced 9 percent, more than the 5.1 percent forecast of Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles.

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