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SMI profits up
The owner of Lowe's Motor Speedway on Wednesday reported a smaller fourth-quarter loss and higher profit for 2008, but also said declining revenues in the quarter were the result of “challenging recessionary conditions on admission, merchandising and concession revenues.”

Concord, N.C.-based Speedway Motorsports – which also owns six other major tracks – reported fourth-quarter revenues of more than $130.6 million, down more than 7 percent from a year earlier. Admissions revenues dropped more than 17 percent to $36.1 million.

For the year, however, total revenues were up almost 9 percent to nearly $611 million – due in large part to Speedway Motorsports acquisition of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which hosted two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and other events last year.

The company also saw major improvement at Motorsports Authentics, a merchandising venture it owns with International Speedway Corp.

Motorsports Authentics posted big losses in 2007 because several drivers – including Dale Earnhardt Jr. – announced plans to change teams and sponsors. That resulted in a large inventory of unsold items. In 2008, though, sales of Earnhardt and other merchandise increased significantly.

Speedway Motorsports reported a 2008 profit of about $80 million, more than double its 2007 profit of $38.4 million. Its fourth-quarter loss was about $4.9 million, compared with a $20.2 million loss a year earlier.

Despite those gains, the company ended last year with only $58.1 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, down more than 65 percent from a year earlier. Speedway Motorsports also projected 2009 total revenues of $480 million to $520 million, which would be a drop of at least 15 percent from this year. ThatsRacin.com

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