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Yesterday, 5:48 PM
- Activision Blizzard (ATVI -5.9%) says in an 8-K that it's satisfied another of the terms related to its takeover of King Digital Entertainment (NYSE:KING) with clearance from South Korean regulators.
- The Fair Trade Commission of the Republic of Korea has given the OK to the $5.9B deal, leaving just a few steps left.
- The company must satisfy an EU Merger Regulation condition, and get sanction from the High Court of Ireland (where King is based) at a hearing set for Feb. 18. Activision says the scheme of arrangement is expected to take effect Feb. 23.
- Activision shares are up 0.5% after hours.
Mon, Jan. 25, 4:50 PM
- After a look at the holiday season, Credit Suisse is still bullish on a pair of videogame makers.
- The firm's Stephen Ju has reiterated Outperform ratings on Electronic Arts (EA +0.8%) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI -3.3%). He's got a Neutral take on Take-Two Interactive (TTWO -0.1%). Of those, it's EA that hasn't taken a hit over the past month; ATVI is down 10.8% and TTWO down 6%.
- The firm has maintained its price targets on EA ($90, 29% upside from today's $69.92) and Take-Two ($35, 4% upside from today's $33.61) and bumped its target on ATVI from $40 to $41 (18% upside from today's $34.73).
- “The biggest changes to the model come for ATVI as we adjust for Overwatch and layer in contribution for KING," Ju writes. "For EA and TTWO we have made only modest adjustments to our near-to-medium term unit volume estimates as the product release slate has not changed materially."
- Ju estimates Activision will sell 18M units of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 in fiscal 2015, and that EA will still sell 12.85M units of Star Wars: Battlefront in fiscal 2016.
Fri, Jan. 15, 10:45 AM
- After netting some solid returns, Vivendi (OTCPK:VIVHY -1.1%) has sold out of its remaining 5.7% stake in Activision Blizzard (ATVI -0.7%) for $1.1B.
- In addition to those proceeds, Vivendi gets back a $400M cash deposit for unwinding a hedge it had on that stake. It's the end of a multi-year divestment from when Vivendi bought a majority of Activision in 2008.
- Vivendi pointed to Activision's price gains as motivating the sale, though the move may also point to its ambitions with French developers Ubisoft and Gameloft -- videogame makers that Vivendi took quick stakes in and then said it wouldn't rule out taking over.
- Activision stock nearly doubled in 2015 after starting out that year at $20.13.
- Previously: December videogame sales slightly off as console transition continues (Jan. 14 2016)
- Previously: Activision Blizzard hires Hollywood's Sher to co-lead studio effort (Jan. 13 2016)
Thu, Jan. 14, 7:54 PM
- December marked a strong month for new videogames, though the sum was down slightly Y/Y likely due to drag from older-generation consoles.
- New games at retail sold at the pace of $3.22B, NPD Group reports, down from 2014's $3.26B. Hardware and software were down, though accessory sales rose 10%.
- A 4% increase in spending on newest-generation PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U was offset by a 71% drop in PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii hardware. Overall, hardware sales fell 6% Y/Y. Unsurprisingly, December was the best month on record for software for the newest consoles.
- In U.S. new physical software: December is usually Call of Duty month and this one was no exception, as Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (ATVI +1.6%) won the period, followed by Star Wars: Battlefront (EA +1.7%) and Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks). With holiday gifting, the rest of the chart was full of familiar names: Take-Two's (TTWO +0.6%) Grand Theft Auto V, sports games from EA and Take-Two, and Minecraft (MSFT +2.9%).
- As usual, Sony's (SNE -0.8%) PS4 was the top-selling console. It beat the Xbox One and Wii U (OTCPK:NTDOY -0.7%) in sales in every month except April and October, and it claimed the crown in the two best-selling months of the year (November and December). Sony says it's nearing 36M PS4s sold overall, after 6.4M-plus from this holiday season.
Wed, Jan. 13, 8:01 PM
- MKM Partners likes videogames in its Media & Entertainment outlook for 2016 -- and of those companies, Electronic Arts (EA -3.4%) is its top pick, though it also has praise for peers Activision Blizzard (ATVI -6.1%) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO -3.3%) in that sector.
- MKM's joining a chorus noticing EA's strong game slate for this year, and it says the company should also benefit from continuing margin expansion, "which has been fueled by steady gross margin improvement and declining operating expenses," Eric Handler writes.
- The firm thinks EA can expand EPS growth through mobile sales of its popular game platforms and deploying excess cash in a variety of ways.
- Aside from gaming, MKM also points to Imax (IMAX -3.8%), theater operator AMC Entertainment (AMC -2.4%) and Time Warner (TWX -0.7%) as picks.
- Consumer confidence is looking good in the latter stages of the business cycle, it says, and "as a result, we believe companies best positioned to outperform this year are those in the midst of positive content cycles; and operating in more economically resistant segments, particularly video games, for which we have a very bullish outlook."
- Previously: Electronic Arts +1.4% as Piper stays upbeat (Jan. 13 2016)
- Previously: Electronic Arts launches subscription service for PC gamers (Jan. 12 2016)
- Previously: Cowen: Mobile gaming points to big quarter for EA (Jan. 07 2016)
Wed, Jan. 13, 1:00 PM
- Activision Blizzard (ATVI -3.2%) has added juice to its film/TV efforts by adding Quentin Tarantino-friendly producer Stacey Sher as co-president of its recently created studio.
- Sher has produced more than two dozen major films, notably including Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and current release The Hateful Eight. She's a two-time Oscar nominee, for Django Unchained and for Erin Brockovich.
- She'll work alongside former Disney strategy exec Nick van Dyk to bring the studio's projects to life, starting with plans for animated series Skylanders Academy and for a "robust" cinematic universe based on Call of Duty.
- Previously: Activision creates TV/film studio to build off games; releases 'Black Ops 3' (Nov. 06 2015)
Thu, Jan. 7, 4:09 PM
- Cowen & Co. still loves Activision Blizzard (ATVI -1.4%) among videogame makers, but noted from its December Casual Digital Gaming Monthly survey that Electronic Arts (EA -1.9%) is poised for a "big" quarter in mobile gaming.
- Most mobile game makers haven't changed position, the survey suggests, but with customer acquisition costs high, the firm expects consolidation ahead (see: Activision's deal to acquire King Digital (KING -0.3%)).
- EA's mobile share, meanwhile, grew across the board, Cowen notes, and the company may see 50% Q/Q mobile revenue growth when it reports Jan. 26. Madden NFL Mobile actually displaced King's Candy Crush Saga from the No. 3 iPhone spot, and EA saw strength from Star Wars: Galaxy Heroes as well.
- Previously: Cowen sees strong videogame holiday, with Activision its top pick (Dec. 02 2015)
- Previously: Activision +2.7% as analysts boost targets on King deal (Nov. 04 2015)
Mon, Jan. 4, 5:33 PM
- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is up slightly after hours, +0.5%, as it confirms its acquisition of Major League Gaming, adding to its e-sports portfolio.
- The company was earlier reported to have paid $46M for MLG, though it's not discussing terms.
- Activision will continue to operate the MLG.tv platform along with MLG Pro Circuit and GameBattles. It estimates the e-sports audience at more than 100M unique viewers, and projects more than 300M viewers by 2017.
- Previously: Activision makes new year acquisition of Major League Gaming (Jan. 04 2016)
- Previously: 2015 leaders and laggards (Jan. 01 2016)
- Previously: Macquarie expecting growing margins for U.S. videogame publishers (Dec. 30 2015)
Mon, Jan. 4, 12:11 PM
- Activision Blizzard (ATVI -3.2%) got a jump on the new year with another boost to its e-sports ambitions, reportedly taking over Major League Gaming for $46M as others counted down to midnight.
- Activision had hired MLG's Mike Sepso away in October to serve as senior VP of its new e-sports division, and the companies have worked together on the Call of Duty Championship over the past five years. as well as on Blizzard titles like World of Warcraft and Heroes of the Storm.
- MLG had reportedly discussed a sale in the fall (possibly to Yahoo) but was unable to find a buyer.
- Activision will get a recognized brand in the deal along with infrastructure: MLG has a physical and online tournament structure as well as a streaming platform in MLG.tv.
- Previously: Activision creates e-sports division to be headed by former ESPN CEO (Oct. 22 2015)
Fri, Jan. 1, 4:53 AM
- Dow: NKE +29%; HD +27%; MCD +25%; GE +21%; V +16%.
- S&P 500: NFLX +135%; AMZN +119%; ATVI +90%; NVDA +61%; CVC +54%.
- Nasdaq: NFLX +135%; AMZN +119%; CTRP +104%; ATVI +90%; NVDA +61%.
- Dow: WMT -29%; CAT -28%; AXP -26%; CVX -21%; UTX -18%.
- S&P 500: CHK -77%; CNX -77%; SWN -75%; FCX -71%; FOSL -67%.
- Nasdaq: MU -59%; WDC -47%; STX -47%; VIAB -46%; BBBY -37%.
Dec. 30, 2015, 6:28 PM
- Macquarie's still bullish on the major videogame publishers in a new update, maintaining Outperform ratings on Activision Blizzard (ATVI -0.4%), Electronic Arts (EA -0.3%) and Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO -0.9%).
- The firm's Ben Schachter went into some detail about structural differences in how the three grow margins. While U.S. publishers have traditionally hit operating margins of 10-30% (vs. Asian PC-centric companies at 40-45% or more), he says Activision could grow closer to 40-45% over time, and that EA and Take-Two could grow past 35%.
- Among differences, he noted that Activision and Take-Two amortize software development costs in costs of goods sold as they recognize revenue, while EA expenses development costs as they occur, in the R&D line below gross profit.
- As for revenue, while the companies have many similarities (based on wholesale price for AAA physical, a net basis for digital revenues and for China PC distributors), they differ on mobile, where Activision recognizes gross (100%) while EA and Take-Two recognize net (70%).
- Macquarie had boosted its price target to $36 for ATVI on Nov. 4 (it closed at $39.43 today); it holds targets of $83 for EA (19% upside implied); $38 for TTWO (7% upside implied).
- Previously: Pacific Crest: Activision won holiday videogaming with 'Call of Duty' (Dec. 30 2015)
Dec. 30, 2015, 2:37 PM
- Pacific Crest has named Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) the holiday season's videogames winner, on the success of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.
- "Our checks have consistently mentioned CoD as the top game this holiday season and that sales are up year over year due to the first three-year development cycle for Black Ops and the return of the ever-popular Zombies mode," says Pac Crest's Evan Wilson. "We remain positive on ATVI headed into 2016."
- Wilson rates Activision Overweight with a price target of $41; shares are flat today at $39.59.
- He's more neutral on rivals Electronic Arts (EA +0.4%) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO -0.1%); Take-Two had a "relatively successful holiday" thanks to NBA 2K16. Meanwhile, EA's Star Wars: Battlefront saw sales driven down by discounts -- "We continue to think sales are only around the 13M unit guidance" -- and the company missed an opportunity with timing. "We would stay on the sidelines as shares look for a next catalyst beyond Star Wars."
Dec. 29, 2015, 9:39 AM
- "Our checks have consistently mentioned [Call of Duty: Black Ops 3] as the top game this holiday season and that sales are up year-over-year due to the first three-year development cycle for Black Ops and the return of the ever-popular Zombies mode," says Pac Crest's Evan Wilson, reiterating an Overweight on Activision (ATVI +2.2%)
- NPD (unsurprisingly) reported earlier this month Black Ops 3 was the top-selling U.S. game in November. Amazon announced yesterday the first-person shooter was one of its three best-selling holiday titles, along with Fallout 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront.
- Last week, Activision announced Black Ops III's first downloadable content pack (DLC), known as Awakening, will arrive on the PS4 on Feb. 2, with other platforms following later. The game currently has a Metacritic review score of 81/100, but a user score of just 4.5/10.
Dec. 11, 2015, 2:49 PM
- NPD estimates U.S. physical retail video game sales fell 7% Y/Y in November to $993.9M, after having dropped 3% in seasonally weaker October to $349.4M. Aggressively-priced console bundles likely weighed on standalone game sales. Hardware sales rose 11% to $1.12B after being roughly flat in October, and peripheral/interactive toy sales rose 6% to $357.7M after rising 18% in October.
- Not surprisingly, Activision's (ATVI -3.2%) Call of Duty: Black Ops III was the month's top-selling game, followed by Bethseda's Fallout 4. However, Activision's Destiny: The Taken King fell out of the top-10, after coming in at #7 last month.
- Electronic Arts' (EA +1.2%) Star Wars: Battlefront, which recently saw a $20 GameStop price cut amid mixed critic and user reviews, was #3. EA also took the #4, #6, and #7 spots via Madden NFL 16, FIFA 16, and Need for Speed. Madden and FIFA were also #4 and #6 last month.
- Take-Two's (TTWO -1%) NBA 2K16 dropped three spots to #5, while WWE 2K16 fell out of the top-10. Ubisoft's (OTCPK:UBSFY) Assassin's Creed: Syndicate and Just Dance 2016 were #9 and #10; neither was in the top-10 last month.
- Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Halo 5: Guardians fell from #1 to #8. With Halo 5 providing less of a lift to Xbox One sales, the PlayStation 4 (NYSE:SNE) regained its status as the top-selling U.S. retail console.
- EA remains green following the data and news the company is entering the eSports market. Activision (like GameStop) is underperforming amid a 1.8% Nasdaq drop, and Take-Two is down modestly.
- Last month: Black Ops 3 sells $550M in opening weekend
Dec. 4, 2015, 1:37 PM
- Investors are buying back into consumer staples and consumer discretionary names, while tip-toeing around major chains such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Macy's. Some sin stocks are part of the rally.
- Lower oil prices, today's read on U.S. employment, and a few key earnings report have helped to increase confidence that consumers will spend more on low-priced items. Notable movers by category are below.
- Nondurable household products: Scott's Liquid Gold-Inc (OTCPK:SLGD +4.5%), Procter & Gamble (PG +2.5%), Church & Dwight (CHD +1.6%), Spectrum Brands (SPB +1.4%).
- Toys/Video games: Electronic Arts (EA +4.6%), Mattel (MAT +4.3%), Activision Blizzard (ATVI +3.2%).
- Tobacco: Reynolds America (RAI +3.1%), Altria (MO +2.5%).
- Beverages: Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF.A) +3.2%, Constellation Brands (STZ +2.8%), Coca-Cola (KO +2.3%), PepsiCo (PEP +2%).
- Footwear: Nike (NKE +2.6%), Skechers (SKX +1.9%), Wolverine Worldwide (WWW +2.2%).
- Related ETFs: XLY, XRT, VCR, RTH, RETL, IYK, IYC, FXD, FDIS, SCC, UCC, RCD, PMR, UGE, SZK, BITE
Dec. 3, 2015, 10:49 AM
- It was bullets over blasters for Thanksgiving weekend videogame shopping, as Activision Blizzard's (ATVI +0.7%) Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 earned the top-selling spot, according to InfoScout.
- That meant prevailing over Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:EA) Madden NFL 16 and its high-profile launch of Star Wars: Battlefront, a subject of contentious investor debate over early sales and reviews and long-term sales projections.
- Black Ops 3 took 9.8% of game spending on Black Friday, helped by discounts at Wal-Mart. Madden NFL 16 took 6.7% of spending.
- The latest Call of Duty entry has earned critical acclaim and looks like it's selling more than last year's, Advanced Warfare, says Pacific Crest's Evan Wilson.
- Yesterday, Piper Jaffray posted a bullish report on EA suggesting looking beyond Battlefront to a strong slate ahead (though the firm also did little to dampen strong holiday sales projections for the Star Wars game).
- Previously: EA +1.1% as Piper Jaffray looks beyond 'Star Wars,' urges buying on weakness (Dec. 02 2015)
- Previously: Cowen sees strong videogame holiday, with Activision its top pick (Dec. 02 2015)
- Previously: Electronics Arts down again, -2%; Oppenheimer still bullish (Nov. 24 2015)
- Previously: Macquarie: Despite reviews, EA's 'Star Wars' game likely to be big hit (Nov. 18 2015)
Activision Blizzard Inc is an online, personal computer, video game console, tablet, handheld, and mobile game publisher. It has three operating segments: - Activision Publishing, Inc., Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and Activision Blizzard Distribution.
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