Magna Stock Plunges After Weak Second Quarter Reported

Magna Entertainment's stock plunged Friday on the heels of a second quarter earnings report that failed to meet analysts' projections. The stock fell 20.6%, a loss of $1.04, on heavy trading to $4.01. More than 2.1 million shares changed hands compared to the company's daily average of 310,000.

The decline set a new 52-week low. Magna's stock has not been this low since April 1, 2001.

The company reported Thursday it earned $1.08 million, or 1 cent per share, lower than an estimate of 3 cents per share by five analysts polled by Multex. That's down from year-earlier earnings of $2.24 million, or 3 cents per share.

In a research note, National Bank Financial analyst Michael Smith lowered his 2002 earnings estimate to 20 cents per share from 24 cents per share because of the timing of recently announced acquisitions.

Smith also decreased the target price to $8.00 from $10.30, but maintained a "buy" recommendation.

"Magna Entertainment is an early-stage consolidation/account wagering story with highly seasonal results. The key driver for the stock is the evolution of these two strategic initiatives," said Smith in his research note.

"With this year's three acquisitions, the launch of XpressBet and the granting of an account-wagering license in California, Magna Entertainment is meeting our expectations," Smith said.

CIBC World Markets was more bearish and reduced their rating on Magna from "buy" to "hold."

"While we believe there is value in the company's excess real estate holdings, we believe investors should remain on the sidelines until management rights its ship," CIBC analysts said in an Aug. 1 report. The report was authored by Adam Steinberg, William Schmitt, and David Katz.

CIBC analysts also adjusted their projections downward to 12 cents per share from 18 cents per share for 2002, and lower 2003 projected earnings from 25 cents per share to 17 cents.

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