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BofA Downgrades THQ to 'Market Perform'

Banc of America downgraded THQ (THQI) to market perform from buy.

Analyst Gary Cooper says October sales of "Red Faction II" game were soft, and weakness continued in November and December. Cooper says sales of "WWE: Shut Your Mouth!" game have declined since Thanksgiving after a strong start. He says THQ is the only stock in his coverage without an $100 million annual selling title. He also thinks the Game Boy Advance business earns gross margins of about 40% to 55%, compared with 65%to 75% margins for rivals PS-2, GameCube and Xbox.

Cooper notes THQ's balance sheet are less conservative than other major publishers. He lowered his 96 cents fourth quarter earnings per share estimate 90 cents, and cut the $1.26 2002 estimate to $1.19, and lowered the $1.40 2003 estimate to $1.35.

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