December 10, 2008 / 2:50 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-International Speedway sees weak 2009 as fans stay away

* Sees fiscal 2009 profit below estimates

* Rocky economy, auto industry woes hurt

* Expects attendance-related revenue to fall

* Shares fall 3 percent

Dec 10 (Reuters) - Race track owner International Speedway Corp (ISCA.O) forecast a weaker-than-expected 2009 profit as a rocky U.S. economy and hard times in the auto industry weigh on the professional stock car racing circuit.

The company, a beneficiary of NASCAR television earnings, expects attendance-related revenue at its race tracks to fall in 2009 as racing enthusiasts, squeezed by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, stay away.

“Hospitality and sponsorship spending by our corporate partners was also affected, although to a lesser extent,” International Speedway President Lesa France Kennedy said in a statement.

Unlike most U.S. sports, NASCAR is heavily dependent on sponsorships, with corporations such as DuPont DD.N, Coca Cola CCE.N and the three major U.S. automakers holding long associations with the sport.

General Motors Corp (GM.N) — which is already cutting NASCAR-related spending — Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Chrysler [CBS.UL] are big backers of the sport.

For 2009, International Speedway said it expects a profit of $2.35 a share to $2.45 a share, with the company currently “more comfortable” at the low end of its earnings range. It also backed its fiscal 2008 outlook.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to report earnings of $2.62 a share for fiscal 2009, before items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Shares of Daytona Beach, Florida-based International Speedway (ISCA.O), which competes with Speedway Motorsports (TRK.N), fell to a low of $26.15, before recouping some losses to trade down 74 cents at $27.06 Wednesday morning on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in Bangalore; )

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