Gemstar Reports Steep First Quarter Loss

Gemstar-TV Guide International, parent company to the TV Games Network, posted a steep first quarter net loss due to $297.8 million write-off and declining revenue.

The California-based media and technology company reported a net loss of $208 million, or 50 cents a share, including the $297.8 million write-off of goodwill in line with new accounting rules. Excluding the massive charge, the net loss would have been $20.2 million, or 5 cents a share. In first quarter of 2001, Gemstar posted a net loss of $123.2 million, or 30 cents a share.

The write-off is associated with Gemstar's $14 billion acquisition of TV Guide in July 2000. Goodwill represents an intangible asset, such as the value of a well-respected brand or customer relations. Goodwill can result in what is known as an impairment, which in the case of mergers represents how much the purchase price exceeds the actual book value of an acquired company. Companies used to be able to write down the difference over decades (up to 40 years) under old accounting rules. The new rules require periodic reviews of goodwill for impairment with the first such review in the first quarter of 2002.

Gemstar said in March it would write down as much as $5 billion in goodwill in the first quarter. The company said Wednesday it expects the total write-down will still be $5 billion, but taken over a longer period of time.

News Corp., which owns more than 42% of Gemstar, said this week it wrote down $4.2 billion of its stake in Gemstar in the last quarter.

Gemstar's revenue for the quarter was down 13.3% to $296.6 million compared with revenue of $342.2 million for the same quarter a year ago. Year-earlier revenue had been $352.5 million, but the company said it adjusted revenue lower as the result of an accounting change.

TV Guide magazine saw a $27 million revenue decline in the first quarter, due to lower subscription and newsstand sales.

In after hours trading, Gemstar shares fell about 7% to $9.05 from a Nasdaq close of $9.74. In the last two months, Gemstar shares have lost more than 55% of their value, driven in part by the news about the goodwill charge.