In case you haven’t heard, Zumba is the latest dance/fitness craze sweeping the U.S. and Europe. Its popularity is rising so fast that the traffic going to zumba.com has grown five-fold over the past 2 years. This phenomenon promises to do the same for shares of Majesco Entertainment (NASDAQ:COOL).
Founded in 1986, Majesco has been a relatively unknown video game vendor for most of its existence. That changed in 2006 with the release of “Cooking Mama.” Unlike Majesco’s ticker symbol, Cooking Mama didn’t sound like the coolest game.
However, after a slow start, Cooking Mama won many awards and eventually gained great popularity. According to gamrReview, Cooking Mama only sold half a million units in its first year; after that, though, the game caught on and sales exploded. It sold 2 million units in its second year and never looked back. Cooking Mama became Majesco’s flagship title, selling over 10 million units to date.
Now, 5 years later, history appears ready to repeat itself. Last November, Majesco released another oddly named title, Zumba Fitness. At the time, most people had never heard of Zumba. However, its small but growing base of enthusiastic fans soon made the game a success. Looking at the Google Insights stats for Zumba Fitness, you can see that interest is at an all-time high. More importantly, Google’s data extrapolation algorithms forecast a continued rise. This is a clear sign that COOL has a hit franchise on its hands.
The numbers are bearing this out. Zumba Fitness sold half a million copies in less than 3 months, but that was just a warm-up. Thanks to Zumba’s still-rising popularity and a hugely successful European launch, sales have barely taken a breather. The game reached the million-unit mark after 4 months on the market. A couple months later, it hit another million -- and soon after, another. Investors can now expect the Majesco to announce the sale of its 4 millionth copy in the near future.
In short, Zumba Fitness has been a runaway hit. But the party is just getting started. Flush with profits from Zumba Fitness, Majesco has invested heavily in what promises to be a greatly-improved sequel: Zumba 2 is scheduled for release in mid-November, just in time to reclaim its place in the Global Top 10.
In addition, Microsoft is expected to put greater marketing weight behind its Kinect motion-recognition technology this holiday season. Motion-recognition technologies like Kinect and the Wii are a big part of the reason why games involving full-body motion (like Just Dance and Zumba Fitness) are taking off. With increased marketing from Microsoft, these franchises could see even greater success in the year ahead.
The sequel appears ready to blow the original away. The game has been revamped with 32 new routines. It also lets players create customized classes, keeps track of calories, and features 30 new songs, including mainstream tracks like “Pause” by Pitbull and the popular club hit “We Speak No Americano.” These are all major enhancements over the original, sparking comparisons to the early days of Guitar Hero.
The similarities to Guitar Hero should not be taken lightly. Most investors would be surprised to hear that the original Zumba Fitness has been four times as successful as the original Guitar Hero.
That’s right…the first Guitar Hero “only” sold 1 million units in its first year (all on the PlayStation 2). However, with enhanced game-play and growing popularity, the franchise started taking off. Guitar Hero 2 sold about 3 million units in its first year on the PS2. The Xbox version came out later and chipped in with 1.5 million units. Topping it off, since the original Guitar Hero offered different songs, it continued to sell well, selling another million units over time.
This trend continued with Guitar Hero 3, which sold a staggering 15 million units. In turn, Guitar Hero 2 continued to sell exceedingly well (another 2 million units) after GH3’s release. Before it was all said and done, the Guitar Hero franchise had sold 50 million units. It was the main driver of Activision’s (NASDAQ:ATVI) market cap, which increased by over $10 billion during Guitar Hero’s ascent.
Investors can expect a similar dynamic with Majesco’s Zumba Fitness franchise. Ubisoft has already proven this with the success of its Just Dance franchise. Like Guitar Hero, Just Dance and Zumba Fitness are latching on to a hot new gaming genre -- in this case, dancing / fitness. Ubisoft’s “Just Dance” franchise paved the way for Zumba Fitness, selling 4 million units in 2010, its first year of release (just as Zumba Fitness has thus far in 2011). And just like Guitar Hero 2, Just Dance 2 was even bigger than the original. It has sold over 8 million units in its first year, while helping to sell an additional 2 million units of the original.
If Zumba 2 follows in its footsteps, Majesco can expect to ship a total of 10 million units over the next 12 months. This is double the number baked into current Wall Street estimates. The odds favor COOL. Zumba Fitness is tied to a specific fitness craze, while Just Dance is not. This suggests that Zumba 2 could conceivably exceed Just Dance’s gaudy sales numbers.
The implications for Majesco’s stock could be explosive. Based on the company’s current operating structure, 10 million units of Zumba would not only double the Street’s revenue number, it holds the potential to produce $1.50 in EPS. This is more than 3x the current Wall Street estimates (44 cents for 2012). Given a P/E of 10, this will result in a $15 stock. With 15 P/E, it will be $22.50.
This may sound like wishful thinking, but this is what giant trends can do to tiny companies. The Pokemon craze sent shares of 4Kids from 96 cents to 93 dollars in just one year. Guitar Hero was the primary driver of a $10 billion increase in ATVI's market cap over the course of two years. If the Zumba franchise adds just $1 billion to COOL’s market cap, this will be a $27 stock. Considering its $2 share price, the potential loss is very low for this level of potential reward.
The best part is that investors won’t have to wait long to find out if they win or lose. More than half of Just Dance’s 8 million units occurred in its first 11 weeks of release. If Zumba 2 continues tracking Just Dance’s sales trends (as it has thus far), revenues for COOL’s January quarter could exceed $100 million, beating Street estimates by 100%.
Even if Zumba 2 is just a modest success, COOL’s numbers should beat the Street. Last year, the company posted $48.5M in sales during the holiday quarter. Estimates for this year only call for a small increase to $51.8M. This leaves a lot of room for error. Even if Majesco just meets Street estimates for 2012, the company will post more than 44 cents of EPS, bringing its cash balance close to $1 per share.
This sort of performance and cash position would provide ample justification for the stock to double from current level. That being said, Majesco hasn’t been just meeting expectations, it's been crushing them. COOL’s EPS have beaten the Street by 250%, 86%, and 82% in the three quarters since Zumba’s release, respectively. Based on this and the rising popularity of Zumba as a fitness craze, investors can expect to be well-rewarded under most scenarios.
Beyond succeeding on its own, the Zumba Fitness franchise makes Majesco an attractive acquisition candidate. This would make sense for leading video game makers, like Electronic Arts (ERTS) or Activision, which have the marketing and distribution resources to make Zumba Fitness an even bigger hit. ATVI would make particular sense, because it understands the value of a successful music franchise and should be licking its chops at the idea of getting its hands on a new one.
So why is the stock still trading around $2? Simple. First of all, short interest has been rising. This is because Majesco’s performance is typically weak at this time of the year. However, this year, the company has Zumba Fitness continuing to sell well, along with its strong slate of pending new titles in some time. Short-sellers are surely blind to these facts. Further, investors and Wall Street analysts tend to operate under standard assumptions regarding the performance of video game sequels. But this is no standard sequel. The Zumba Fitness franchise bears more resemblance to outstanding outliers like Guitar Hero and Just Dance. In fact, the Zumba franchise could hold more potential than its predecessors, because Zumba Fitness is not just a great concept (like Just Dance and Guitar Hero), it’s actually tied to a hot and growing trend.
Weighing all the facts, it’s not hard to see that shares of Majesco are poised to triple.
Disclosure: I am long COOL.