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Atari shows sluggish results, issues dreary guidance

Atari has posted under-prediction operating profits and issued cautious guidance, driving shares down a further six percent.

"Do not expect a spectacular rise in the group's sales," said company chief Bruno Bonnell on the back of yearlong figures issued today. "We expect double-digit growth in the gaming consoles market but this will be offset by an expected decline in PCs."

Fiscal 2003 did, however, see the publisher slash costs by 150 million euros, and reduce its net loss from 101 million euros to 31.5 million euros in the year. Despite this, operating profit sailed in at a meager 2.6 million euros, short of a 4.15 million euros predicted by a panel of analysts questioned by Reuters last year.

Driv3r is now largely credited as being a 'make or break' title for the publisher, and was fingered as being a decided factor is last year's poor results due to shipping delays.

The game ships in June in both Europe and America, but Infogrames has shied away from issuing sales targets. A budget of over 30 million euros has been earmarked for the title's marketing.

Bonnell has also made it clear in the last 24 hours that no more titles based on movie franchises are planned, following critical panning of games wrought from the Terminator and Matrix franchises - presumably meaning beyond the release of Terminator 3: Redemption later in the year.

Bonnell reiterated that Atari has a smaller catalogue of games this year, in order to better focus on quality, slash operating costs and drive sales to the bottom line.

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