Blockbuster Posts Loss on Marketing Costs

Blockbuster Inc. (BBI), whose chief executive, John Antioco, is under attack from billionaire investor Carl Icahn (search), its largest shareholder, on Thursday posted a quarterly loss as higher marketing costs reversed a year-ago profit.

The first-quarter net loss reached $57.5 million, or 31 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $114.4 million, or 63 cents a share.

Excluding compensation expenses and costs tied to the failed bid to acquired rival Hollywood Entertainment Corp. (HLYW), the net loss was $42.7 million, or 23 cents a share, in the most recent quarter.

On that basis, analysts expected a loss of 28 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Blockbuster, based in Dallas, is in the midst of a costly promotion of its new online DVD rental service and a "No Late Fees" campaign to woo customers from rivals like top online DVD renter Netflix Inc. (NFLX)

Icahn has slammed the company's investments, saying Blockbuster was on a "spending spree" with shareholder's money.

He has nominated a slate of three dissident directors, including himself, that he wants installed at the company's May 11 shareholders meeting.

On March 9, Blockbuster said it would spend $120 million on promotions to add more online renters this year, more than doubling spending from year-earlier levels.