Play Midway's Games, Not Its Stock

Little has changed at Midway Games (NYSE: MWY  ) . The video game publisher is still dipping its fountain pen into the red-ink jar to scribe its earnings numbers. But I have to give the company this much -- it's narrowed the bottom-line loss while growing the top line.

Net revenues increased 23% to $31.8 million. This actually beat the company's prior belief that it would do about $29 million in sales for the second quarter. The net loss was halved to $0.16 per diluted share. This is in keeping with Midway's recent trend of paring down its losses, as evidenced by the publisher's first quarter and its annual results.

Midway, however, has a difficult time getting investors' attention, because the alternatives are so much better. Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) , Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) , and THQ (Nasdaq: THQI  ) have better franchises at their disposal. THQ has the Viacom Nickelodeon portfolio powering its slate of games, while Activision has the incredible Guitar Hero software at its disposal to drive shareholder value (Activision better watch out, though, because EA is readying its own rockin' title for release later in the year).

In keeping to a musical theme, let me say that Midway is out of tune right now with the video game zeitgeist. Scroll through the game listings and you'd understand. Try as it might, Midway just can't turn to any solid franchise to keep shareholders happy -- it doesn't have a game such as Take-Two's (Nasdaq: TTWO  ) Grand Theft Auto or EA's Madden football to call its own. If it did, it would be able to leverage the new systems from companies such as Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) to maximum advantage.

It might be a long while before Midway is even a blip on my radar (unless something truly amazing happens). Sumner Redstone -- who serves on the boards of both Viacom and CBS -- certainly loves it; he owns 88% of the company's shares, according to Midway's latest 10K. (Recent news reports suggest that his large acquisition of Midway shares over the years has contributed to the differences he's had with his daughter, Shari, who also sits on the boards of both Viacom and CBS).

So, feel free, Fools, to play a round of your favorite Mortal Kombat iteration. Better to interact with Midway in that manner. I still have no personal interest in a company that expects another loss for the year in such a competitive landscape. Speculating on a turnaround in this business would be too early in my opinion; look to others, such as EA or Activision, if your portfolio is in need of a video game fix.

More Foolish coverage of Midway:

Activision and Electronic Arts are proud members of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation list. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service with no obligation whatsoever. The Gardner brothers can help you construct a long-term, wealth-building portfolio. Microsoft is a member of the Motley Fool Inside Value portfolio.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Activision. As of this writing, he was ranked 9,719 out of more than 60,000 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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