10/31/2003 12:00AM

Magna down for quarter


Magna Entertainment Corp., the largest racetrack company in North America, lost $15.4 million in the third quarter of 2003, or 14 cents per share, according to financial records Magna released late Thursday.

Analysts had estimated that Magna would lose 11 cents per share in the quarter, and investors reacted by driving Magna's stock price down 30 cents, or 6.3 percent, to $4.46, on Friday. On a conference call Friday morning, Magna's chief executive officer, Jim McAlpine, acknowledged that the results were "disappointing."

Magna, which owns all or part of 15 racetracks, also announced that the company's chief operating officer, Roman Doroniuk, left the company on Thursday. Doroniuk was hired six months ago.

McAlpine said that Doroniuk had "accomplished quite a few things," but he was not specific.

McAlpine said Magna's third-quarter performance was hurt by declining business at its tracks; ongoing losses for the company's account-wagering operation, XpressBet, and its television channel, Horse Racing TV; and by "significant costs" related to lobbying for slots in various states.

McAlpine said the company's acquisitions as a whole had performed worse in the third quarter this year than last year.

McAlpine said that the company planned to take write-offs in the fourth quarter against some of its properties, but he was not specific. Magna wrote off $23.3 million of its assets in the fourth quarter of 2002. The vast majority of that, $17.5 million, was related to Remington Park in Oklahoma City and Great Lakes Downs in Michigan.