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Activision Blizzard, Inc (ATVI)

  • Mon, Nov. 23, 11:55 AM
    | Mon, Nov. 23, 11:55 AM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Nov. 17, 3:18 PM
    • It's launch day for Star Wars: Battlefront, one of the year's biggest videogame rollouts, but Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) may want to skip the earliest reviews.
    • The game is getting a 73 rating -- "mixed or average reviews" -- on Metacritic for its Xbox One version (15 critics). The PlayStation 4 version is faring a bit better with a 78 (generally favorable), from 13 critics.
    • EA shares are flat today, while rivals Activision Blizzard (ATVI +3.1%) and Take-Two (TTWO +2.4%) are much stronger.
    • Mizuho's Neil Doshi is unperturbed; many of the worst reviews were from people expecting a single-player campaign, he says, and major sites have yet to post their takes. He still agrees with EA that the company could sell 13M units by the end of March and reiterated a Buy rating and $84 target (near 24% upside implied).
    • Along with reviewers, Piper Jaffray's Michael Olson noted a dearth of content in the game as sold, but industry trends suggest that can be remedied by a year of strong downloadable content that EA could provide. Olson has an Overweight rating and an $87 price target.
    • Previously: EA +1% as Oppenheimer launches at Outperform on strong slate, margins (Nov. 12 2015)
    • Previously: Electronic Arts sinks 5% after beat-and-raise, bullish targets (Oct. 30 2015)
    • Previously: Electronic Arts +1.6% as Piper Jaffray reiterates Buy (Oct. 27 2015)
    | Tue, Nov. 17, 3:18 PM | 15 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 11, 10:44 AM
    • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 logged more than $550M in its first weekend of sales, Activision Blizzard (ATVI +0.2%) reports, establishing an early benchmark for a crucial holiday season for games and retailers overall.
    • The company happily compared the three days to every other entertainment launch this year, including Jurassic World -- which grossed some $523M worldwide in its opening three days.
    • Activision has a new partnership with Sony's PlayStation as the preferred partner platform, and the new game set a platform record for first-day sellers (digital full game, by units moved).
    • Fans also played more than 75M hours online over the weekend in the multiplayer-heavy first-person military shooter. It's on a pace for more hours per player than any other Call of Duty game, says Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg.
    • Digital downloads overall on next-gen consoles was up nearly 100% from the year-ago launch of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
    • Call of Duty is a $10B franchise for Activision Blizzard, and a critical piece going forward: Activision is basing a key part of its e-sports strategy on a worldwide league around the game, and it plans a "robust cinematic universe" around the game as a key project for its new film studio.
    • Previously: Activision creates TV/film studio to build off games; releases 'Black Ops 3' (Nov. 06 2015)
    • Previously: E-sports: Activision widens competition; Turner has prime-time plans (Sep. 24 2015)
    | Wed, Nov. 11, 10:44 AM | 12 Comments
  • Fri, Nov. 6, 1:43 PM
    • Activision Blizzard (ATVI -4%) is creating a new studio that will turn its game and toy franchises into films and TV shows.
    • First up from Activision Blizzard Studios: in-progress work on Skylanders Academy, an animated series based on the $3B toys-to-life game hit Skylanders, and a "robust cinematic universe" built around the Call of Duty shooting-game franchise.
    • Skylanders Academy will be run by Eric Rogers (Futurama) and feature the voices of Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale, Jonathan Banks, Norm MacDonald, Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz. Other projects will follow. (Will Candy Crush become a real cinematic Saga?)
    • Former Disney strategy executive Nick van Dyk is co-president of the studio alongside an executive to be named later.
    • Meanwhile, it's release day for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Activision's latest entry in a $10B franchise and projected by many to be the year's top game. The open question is whether it can reverse declines in CoD series sales. The game has an 85 on Metacritic, up slightly from the past two entries.
    | Fri, Nov. 6, 1:43 PM | 14 Comments
  • Thu, Nov. 5, 3:41 PM
    | Thu, Nov. 5, 3:41 PM | 2 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 4, 5:04 PM
    • Fresh off news that it's getting acquired by Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), King Digital Entertainment (KING -0.5%) posted a solid Q3 on profits and revenues thanks to a few moneymaking hits.
    • Gross bookings were $502M, down $27M (5%) from Q2 and down 8% Y/Y. Some 82% ($414M) of gross bookings came from the mobile audience. Adjusted EBITDA of $180M beat an expected $158.3M.
    • Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga were ranked in the top 5 grossing games in the Apple and Google stores for the third straight quarter.
    • Users declined across the board, however. Monthly active users fell to 474M from a year-ago 495M, and daily active users slipped to 133M from 137M.
    • Meanwhile, monthly unique users fell to 330M from 348M, and monthly unique payers fell to 6.85M from 8.67M. Monthly gross average bookings per paying users rose to $24.45 from $20.92, and the company said it saw a higher portion of payers paying in more than one game.
    • It's guiding to gross bookings of $475M-$500M in Q4. Shares were inactive after hours.
    • Press Release
    | Wed, Nov. 4, 5:04 PM | 9 Comments
  • Wed, Nov. 4, 3:53 PM
    • As analyst takes pile up, some bullishness is rolling in for Activision Blizzard (ATVI +2.7%) following news of its $5.9B deal to acquire King Digital (KING -0.5%) -- a price tag that has stirred debate over whether Activision overpaid.
    • Cowen's Doug Creutz had called the deal a "steal" yesterday. Wedbush raised its price target on Activision to $47, from $37, reiterating an Outperform rating, and sees a "mobile powerhouse" coming from a combo that "makes eminent sense."
    • Activision gains a lot by buying mobile development rather than spending a decade to build it out, Wedbush says. The firm believes the addressable market for mobile games is close to $24B now, and could grow 15-20% a year over the next five.
    • With Activision currently trading at $36.78, Wedbush's target implies 27.8% upside.
    • Pacific Crest calls this "one of the most 'Activision' of Activision deals it has ever done," pointing to 30% accretion to 2016 earnings and unlocking overseas cash. Activision will use $3.6B in offshore cash along with a term loan to seal the deal.
    • The firm says modest growth at King may be inconsequential in the long run. It boosted its price target on Activision to $41 from $31 (implied 11.5% upside from current price) and maintains an Overweight rating.
    • Previously: ATVI down -2.8% after 'steal' in King deal; GLUU, ZNGA higher (Nov. 03 2015)
    • Previously: Activision earnings: Solid beat on top and bottom lines, record digital revenue (Nov. 02 2015)
    • Previously: Activision Blizzard to acquire King Digital for $5.9B (Nov. 02 2015)
    | Wed, Nov. 4, 3:53 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, Nov. 3, 9:50 AM
    • Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is off 2.8% in the wake of last night's surprise announcement that it was buying Candy Crush Saga regents King Digital (KING +14.1%) for $5.9B.
    • Cowen's Doug Creutz reiterated his Outperform rating on Activision, calling the deal "an absolute steal for Activision" that "immediately vaults them to being one of the top mobile gaming companies in the world." He has a $35 price target on the stock; just over 4% upside from today's trading of $33.60.
    • Meanwhile, Jim Cramer says "If [Activision chief Bobby Kotick] says this is a good deal, it's a good deal."
    • With the deal, King may have "solved" its dilemma of how to keep converting players into payers, as the company never quite got beyond the dependence on a single franchise (however lucrative).
    • King's mobile and social game rivals are trading up on the acquisition news as well; Glu Mobile (NASDAQ:GLUU) is up 5.2% in early going, while Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is up 2.5%. Majesco Entertainment (NASDAQ:COOL) is up 6.3%.
    | Tue, Nov. 3, 9:50 AM | 18 Comments
  • Mon, Nov. 2, 11:20 PM
    • Along with an announcement that it's buying King Digital for $5.9B, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) posted Q3 results that were an across-the-board beat featuring its highest ever Q3 operating income.
    • Non-GAAP EPS was down slightly from last year, to $0.21 from a prior $0.23, beating an expected $0.16. Non-GAAP net revenues of $1.04B were down slightly but also soundly beat expectations of $951.2M.
    • Net revenues from digital channels were a record $697M, up 38% Y/Y and representing a full 67% of total revenues.
    • The company boosted full-year 2015 guidance as well, now seeing net revenues of $4.65B (vs. an expected $4.66B), up from $4.6B, and EPS of $1.31 (vs. an expected $1.34), up from $1.30. For Q4, it's expecting non-GAAP net revenues of $2.148B and EPS of $0.82.
    • A conference call is set for 8 a.m. ET tomorrow to discuss earnings and its acquisition of King Digital; its previous call set for 4:30 p.m. ET tomorrow is canceled.
    • Press release
    | Mon, Nov. 2, 11:20 PM | 9 Comments
  • Mon, Nov. 2, 10:47 PM
    • Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has announced a deal to acquire King Digital Entertainment (NYSE:KING), makers of Candy Crush Saga and other mobile games, for $5.9B in equity value.
    • The company posted its earnings as well, logging non-GAAP revenues of $1.04B and EPS of $0.21.
    • The deal for King represents $5B in enterprise value. At $18 in cash per share, it's a 20% premium over King's Oct. 30 closing price and a 15.8% premium over today's close (King shares gained 4% to $15.54 today).
    • Both boards have unanimously approved the deal -- a scheme of arrangement under Irish law -- and so it heads to approval by King shareholders and the Irish High Court, with closing expected by Spring 2016.
    • Activision's cash portion will be funded by $3.6B of offshore cash on its balance sheet and a term loan under an existing $2.3B credit agreement.
    • Activision and King will host a call at 8 a.m. ET tomorrow to discuss the acquisition and answer questions.
    • Deal summary presentation
    | Mon, Nov. 2, 10:47 PM | 16 Comments
  • Mon, Nov. 2, 5:35 PM
  • Thu, Oct. 22, 2:13 PM
    • Activision Blizzard (ATVI +2.7%) is increasing its bet on "e-sports" -- competitive videogaming as a spectator sport -- with a pair of high-profile hires to lead a new division.
    • Steve Bornstein, former CEO of ESPN and the NFL Network, will be chairman of the new unit, with Mike Sepso (co-founder and president of Major League Gaming) serving as senior vice president.
    • "I believe e-sports will rival the biggest traditional sports leagues in terms of future opportunities, and between advertising, ticket sales, licensing, sponsorships and merchandising, there are tremendous growth areas for this nascent industry," said Bornstein.
    • Blizzard has been an early adopter of televised e-sports with its franchises StarCraft and World of Warcraft, and got its "Heroes of the Dorm" collegiate event for Heroes of the Storm telecast on ESPN2 earlier this year.
    • Meanwhile, the Activision side has big plans for annual international championships around Call of Duty.
    • Previously: E-sports: Activision widens competition; Turner has prime-time plans (Sep. 24 2015)
    | Thu, Oct. 22, 2:13 PM | Comment!
  • Tue, Oct. 20, 12:08 AM
    • Videogame sales tumbled in September, NPD Group says, falling 9% to $1.01B, with holiday promotions seemingly just around the corner.
    • Once again, both hardware and software declined, though hardware took the beating -- down 27% to $313.5M -- as many gamers may be awaiting a console price break or bundle in time for holiday shopping. Software sales fell just 3% by comparison, to $465.6M. Accessory sales rose again.
    • In new games at retail, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (OTCPK:KNMCY) couldn't unseat either NBA 2K16 (NASDAQ:TTWO) or Madden NFL 16 (NASDAQ:EA), which finished September with a one-two punch, and settled at third place, just ahead of FIFA 16 (EA). Rounding out EA's sports-title success, NHL 16 debuted at No. 9.
    • The only single-platform exclusive to make that top 10 was Super Mario Maker (OTCPK:NTDOY), which debuted at No. 6.
    • Once again, Sony (NYSE:SNE) confirmed the PlayStation 4 was the top console, outselling the Xbox One (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Wii U. Sony's box has outsold Xbox One every month this year except April.
    • But the hardware faced a tough comp against last year's sales, buttressed by the release of Destiny (NASDAQ:ATVI), says NPD's Liam Callahan. And he notes that the consoles are trending up M/M: “All eighth generation consoles [which includes PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U] experienced double-digit growth when comparing sales on a per-week basis.”
    | Tue, Oct. 20, 12:08 AM | 5 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 14, 9:15 PM
    • Demand is still strong among teens for the newest generation of videogame consoles, Piper Jaffray says -- and that's good news for leading game makers like Activision Blizzard (ATVI +0.4%) and Electronic Arts (EA +3.1%).
    • Uptake of the Xbox One (MSFT -0.5%) and PlayStation 4 (SNE -1.5%) consoles "is at the highest level we have seen, reinforcing our expectation for a much more rapid pace than prior-gen" consoles, says analyst Michael Olson, a "clear positive" for Activision, EA, Take-Two Interactive (TTWO +0.2%) and retailer GameStop (GME -1.1%).
    • The firm's semiannual survey found 73% of videogame-playing teens own an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, or intend to get one -- up from 70% last spring and 67% last fall. Some 39% currently own one of the newer consoles, up from 37% in the spring and 26% last fall.
    • "We believe the combination of next-gen console uptake and a robust lineup of AAA titles will lead to sustainable software growth through second-half 2015 and into 2016," Olson writes.
    • Mobile players are stable, but the number who'll pay is rising as well. Some 24% of teens who play mobile games by makers like Glu Mobile (GLUU +1.2%) and King Digital (KING -0.4%) say they spend in-game money, the survey said, up from 21% in the spring.
    | Wed, Oct. 14, 9:15 PM | 16 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 7, 8:14 PM
    • Good news for Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) in the Nielsen Game Rank study, as its Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is the most anticipated multiplatform video game for the holiday season.
    • The game got a 98% rating in the Nielsen study, which measured overall anticipation for games to be released in Q4.
    • Tied for second place were Fallout 4 from Bethesda Softworks and Ubisoft's (OTCPK:UBSFY +1.8%) Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, each at 95%.
    • Eagerly awaited Star Wars: Battlefront, from Electronic Arts (EA -0.7%), was a surprising fifth place with 88% behind EA's new Need for Speed title at 92%.
    • Among console exclusives, the top rankers vary: For the Xbox One, it's Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Halo 5: Guardians (100%). For the PS4 (NYSE:SNE), Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (79%). For Nintendo's (OTCPK:NTDOY) Wii U, it's Yoshi's Woolly World (91%).
    | Wed, Oct. 7, 8:14 PM | 13 Comments
  • Mon, Sep. 28, 3:51 PM
    • Cowen & Co. is seeing what they like from content investments at Activision Blizzard (ATVI -2.2%), bumping its price target to $35, from $28.
    • Cowen's Doug Creutz maintains his Outperform rating on the stock. Shares closed Friday at $32.06 and are currently trading at $31.35, implying 12% upside from here.
    • The firm raised its EPS estimates for fiscal 2015 (to $1.39 from $1.34) and 2016 (to $1.61 from $1.51).
    • Activision Blizzard should see significant sales growth for the next few years from its recent lineup, he says; major updates from Hearthstone and Destiny are performing well, with record user levels hitting up Destiny: The Taken King.
    • “We expect both games to be key drivers of upside in Q3,” Creutz says, and the firm sees advance interest in the upcoming Black Ops 3 to be strong. He also expects that declines in World of Warcraft and Skylanders could slow or stop.
    • Previously: Activision up after 'Destiny' expansion sets download record (Sep. 17 2015)
    | Mon, Sep. 28, 3:51 PM | Comment!
Company Description
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.