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Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 15:19 GMT
Lara firm's shares plunge again
Cyber heroine Lara Croft
Tomb Raider II was its best selling video game
Shares in loss-making computer games firm Eidos, the creator of cyber heroine Lara Croft, have taken another battering after the company painted a bleak trading outlook.

Eidos shares lost almost 15% after the company said its performance this year was being blighted by uncertainties over the roll out of games consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.


The company remains cautious about trading over the next nine to 12 months

Ian Livingstone, chariman, Eidos
Last month Eidos predicted that sales would grow strongly in the second half of 2001, as consoles hit shops.

But the postponement of the European release of Microsoft's X-Box system has prompted the firm to reassess its forecasts.

"The company remains cautious about trading over the next nine to 12 months," reported Eidos chairman Ian Livingstone.

"While the company remains confident in the mid to long term prospects of the entertainment software market, there continues to be a lack of visibility through to Christmas 2001."

Eidos revealed it is also continuing to operate without a finance director, with a second board position vacant, following the resignation of chief financial officer Jeremy Lewis in October.

Return to profits

But Mr Livingstone predicted that the company, which saw pre-tax losses widen to 13.9m between April and December, would return to profitability later this year.

A portfolio of 30 games to be launched within the next two years, plus a cost-trimming programme and a deal with Nokia which will allow Eidos games to be accessed through Wap phones, will underpin growth.

"The board believes that it can successfully deliver its products to ever increasing audiences of gamers across all platforms," Mr Livingstone said.

Of existing games, Chart Track has proved particularly popular, becoming the second biggest-selling title in the UK behind Tomb Raider II.

Future titles

Games in the pipeline include Startopia and Commandos 2, with Gangsters set to be released in a Wap-accessible format in the first half of 2001.


Gamers will naturally gravitate towards titles based around characters, brands and franchises with which they are familiar

Ian Livingstone
Eidos predicts the future computer games market will be dominated by titles inspired by widely-known characters or brands, following the success of the firm's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire package.

"As new hardware platforms and methods of gameplay delivery proliferate, gamers will naturally gravitate towards titles based around characters, brands and franchises with which they are familiar," Mr Livingstone said.

Eidos shares, which fell to 228.5p on Wednesday morning, stood at 232.5p in mid-afternoon trade, 37.5p down on the day.

The stock peaked at more than 1270p in December 1999.

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