Shares of Blockbuster took another hit Thursday as it reported a $44.7-million loss in the last quarter, worse than analysts had expected. It blamed the loss on the costs of closing unproductive stores (it dumped 233 of them last year) severance pay to laid-off employees, and the legal costs incurred in its failed effort to take over Circuit City Stores. On the other hand, it said, sales at its remaining 7,619 stores rose 9 percent in the quarter, leading CEO James Keyes to predict that the company would wind up with a profit of $21-36 million for the year. "To paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of Blockbuster has been greatly exaggerated," Keyes said.