Blog Post

RealNetworks Takes Almost $250 Million In Charges; Rhapsody JV Valuations Decline; More Layoffs

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

RealNetworks (NSDQ: RNWK) has decided to take it on the chin, pre-announcing some numbers prior to its formal Q408 earnings announcement next week. Some good news but it’s mostly bad, not a big surprise given the digital-media landscape these days:

— It expects to report revenue of $151 million to $153 million for Q408, in line with the company’s guidance provided on Oct. 29 last year. That’s the good part.
— One more silver lining for now: It ended 2008 with about $370 million in cash and cash equivalents.

— Now the bad news: A non-cash charge of $185 million to $200 million to reflect the “impairment of goodwill and acquired intangible assets.” Not clear what this charge is for, but likely to be its $350 million acquisition of Korean mobile content firm WiderThan in 2006, and Sony (NYSE: SNE) NetServices in 2007, both primarily on the mobile side.

— Restructuring charges of about $6 million to reflect Q408 layoffs the write-off of its attempts to spin-off its casual games unit into a separate traded company. While Real is still hopeful on the spinoff, with worsening markets “the company has postponed work with outside advisors, has stopped external spending on the transaction and will write off the capitalized costs Q4,” it said.

— A charge of about $20 million to write off “certain deferred project costs and pre-paid royalties, which will result in a reduction to fourth-quarter gross margins.” No word of what this charge is for either…

— A non-cash charge of $16 million to $23 million to reflect an increase in the “valuation allowance for deferred tax assets, net of the tax benefit related to the above mentioned items.”

— Also, the accounting for the quarterly gain on the 2007 sale to *MTV Networks* of 49 percent of Rhapsody America JV (RNWK holds the rest of it) will not be reflected in the income statement in Q408 due to “declines in market valuations and, therefore, a decline in the assumed valuation of the Rhapsody America venture,” it said.

More details in the pre-earnings release.

Update: The company also cut more jobs, laying off some 20 Rhapsody staffers below VP level in Seattle and San Francisco. A spokesman said the layoffs were separate from those in December and that the move occurred now because Rhapsody is on a different budget cycle: It was “related to overall budget and ensuring that costs matched up with projected revenues.”