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Jul. 17, 2015, 5:41 PM
- Videogame sales grew in June, with new physical games and hardware up 18% in the U.S. Y/Y, to $869.4M, according to NPD. That's a rebound from May's 13% decline.
- The industry showed growth in all three major areas: Hardware sales were $313.1M (up 8%); accessories were $210.7M (up 34%); and game software sales were very strong at $345.5M (up 21%, though against a weaker 2014 comp) by calling on the Batman. The settling-in of next-gen consoles continues, as it was the fourth month of Y/Y software increases.
- Batman: Arkham Knight (TWX -1.4%) led the software charts and became the year's second-best seller out of the gate, behind another Warner Bros. release, Mortal Kombat X.
- June was Warner's month: Its other titles Lego Jurassic World, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Mortal Kombat X joined Batman in the top 10 at Nos. 3, 4 and 8 respectively. Warner's dollar sales are up 217% vs. the first half of 2014, making it the top corporate publisher this year, says NPD's Liam Callahan.
- In longer-term holdouts, Minecraft (NASDAQ:MSFT) came in at No. 6, Grand Theft Auto V (TTWO +4%) was No. 7, Take-Two's NBA 2K15 was No. 9 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (NASDAQ:ATVI) No. 10.
- Next-gen consoles like PS4 and Xbox One led the way in hardware growth, up 15%. The PS4 (SNE +0.5%) led console sales again, the company said, as it has for every month this year except for April.
Jul. 16, 2015, 3:21 PM
- Digital game sales crested $1B in revenues in June (up 18% Y/Y), SuperData Research reports -- and most of that is headed to big-name projects.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (ATVI +0.4%) topped the firm's digital console earnings chart for June, followed by Grand Theft Auto V (TTWO +1.8%).
- The overall market was robust, said SuperData chief Joost van Dreunen: Mobile revenues that usually slip in summer increased 4% M/M in June (and 20% Y/Y) to $367M, while console and PC gaming is up 30% Y/Y to $314M.
- Following up Call of Duty and GTA V on the console chart was Bethesda Softworks' MMORPG Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited and Batman: Arkham Knight (TWX +0.7%).
Jul. 9, 2015, 11:40 AM
- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is up 0.7% after Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson noted in a new comment that the latest entry in the company's monster Call of Duty franchise was the title gamers are "most excited" to buy this year, according to Piper's survey.
- Olson maintains an Overweight rating and a $27 price target. Shares closed yesterday at $24.80 and are currently at $24.97, implying an 8% upside.
- Piper surveyed next-gen console owners (PS4 and Xbox One) with a focus on purchase intent and digital content preferences, and repeated the survey after E3.
- "We believe the survey does provide further indication that concern around Call of Duty 'franchise fatigue' is overblown. Activision's 1H'15 catalysts were limited, but believe shares set up well for a move higher into late '15," Olson writes.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is due out Nov. 6.
- Previously: Electronic Arts shares rise during encouraging E3 (Jun. 18 2015)
Jun. 29, 2015, 10:59 AM
- Worlds (OTCQB:WDDD) asserts the federal court that on Friday issued a Markman ruling related to the company's infringement suit against Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) "ruled that the majority of our patent claims construction language means precisely what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) interpreted the claims to mean in the patents they granted to us," thereby leaving the company "in a strong position for a jury trial."
- Worlds hopes to receive a trial date at a July 30 scheduling hearing. Shares now +67% from Thursday's close, after having soared on Friday in response to the ruling.
- The full ruling (.pdf)
Jun. 26, 2015, 11:07 PM
- Mizuho Securities launched coverage on videogame makers with a bullish cast -- setting Buy ratings for Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) and Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO).
- The firm gave a Neutral rating to Ubisoft (OTCPK:UBSFY).
- Its top pick goes to Activision Blizzard, with ample upside left: "Much of the potential upside coming from Blizzard - continued traction with Hearthstone, along with two new IP properties Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. And with CoD: Black Ops III, Destiny: The Taken King, Guitar Hero, and Call of Duty Online, we see solid tailwinds from the Activision side."
- For EA, analyst Neil Doshi points to some well-known catalysts: the now-detailed Star Wars: Battlefront game as well as the company's sports franchises. "For now we remain buyers, despite valuation getting fuller, as we believe new games should lead to sustained growth and digital should pave the way for more margin expansion."
- Today: EA +0.3%; ATVI -1.4%; TTWO +0.8%; OTCPK:UBSFY -1.4%.
- Previously: EA, Take-Two up on bullish Jefferies sales notes (Jun. 24 2015)
- Previously: Electronic Arts shares rise during encouraging E3 (Jun. 18 2015)
Jun. 18, 2015, 11:17 PM
- Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) grabbed the reins at the E3 gaming expo -- announcing three new Star Wars games, headlined by Star Wars: Battlefront, and pointing to its annual sports titles.
- Positivity around Battlefront may be raising the company's fortunes as analysts raise sales estimates; Piper Jaffray's Michael Olson thinks EA could sell 9.5M units in its fiscal 2016. The game comes out Nov. 17 ahead of the Dec. 18 release of the seventh film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- EA shares rose 4% through the conference. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), which didn't hold a media event, fell 1%. For its part, it highlighted November's Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, the latest entry in that multibillion-dollar franchise, as well as the return of another franchise in Guitar Hero Live.
- Activision also will be adding playable vehicles to its $3B toys-to-life franchise Skylanders.
- Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) -- with a fairly surprise-free lineup and no media briefing -- had a lackluster show, and shares fell 3.3% in the interim.
Jun. 16, 2015, 11:38 PM
- Stocks of videogame makers have been on a run heading into this year's E3 conference, but will they have anything left for the holiday season?
- Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) are up 30% and 22% YTD respectively -- but are also trading at 21 times and 18 times forward earnings, well above average. Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) and Sony (NYSE:SNE) have risen more than 50% in Tokyo trading.
- There's still tailwinds to come, Dan Gallagher says, including the shift to digital sales and the migration to next-gen consoles, not to mention the potential of virtual reality.
- This E3 is heavy on the games -- a natural outcome of a bigger installed base for new-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
- Meanwhile, digital game sales ($979M in May) have increased to four times physical new game sales, meaning better margins.
- Previously: Sony's PS4 gains from new exclusives, preferred game windows (Jun. 16 2015)
- Previously: Ubisoft previews new 'South Park' game, range of sequels (Jun. 15 2015)
- Previously: EA gives first in-game look at 'Star Wars: Battlefront' (Jun. 15 2015)
- Previously: Microsoft bringing Xbox 360 games to One, Minecraft to HoloLens (Jun. 15 2015)
Jun. 16, 2015, 2:44 PM
- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) made some of the key news at Sony's (NYSE:SNE) E3 presentation last night, as it effectively switched its primary preferred platform for the huge Call of Duty game series to the PlayStation 4 -- one of a few switchovers and exclusives that should be an extra shot in the arm for the market-leading console.
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, due out Nov. 6, will offer its map packs and other downloadable content to PS4 users first in the coming year -- a switch from that content going to Microsoft's Xbox for an exclusive window. Activision will also send new Destiny DLC to the PS4 first.
- Along with its own in-house exclusives, like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Sony's will be the first platform to get Star Wars content for Disney Infinity 3.0 (NYSE:DIS), and first to see Square Enix's Final Fantasy 7 remake and Hitman.
- Previously: Sony expands PlayStation Vue offering to San Francisco, L.A. (Jun. 16 2015)
Jun. 8, 2015, 11:59 PM
- In a look-ahead to this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Wedbush has its eye on a number of companies, but none more so than console battlers Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony (NYSE:SNE).
- The team (Michael Pachter, Nick McKay and Alicia Reese) highlights a few "what to watch" notes for the consoles: price cuts for the current-gen consoles (Xbox 360 and PS3); no price cuts for next-gen (Xbox One and PS4) as they expect the focus will be on new product bundles; a virtual-reality interface-off between the two; and a battle of notable games (and possible exclusives) on each.
- Among game publishers, they're looking to Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) for news about the holiday season release of its next Call of Duty: Black Ops III; Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) and its annual sports titles (with possible surprises from Star Wars: Battlefront), and a high-stakes game from Take-Two rumored to be called Advent.
- E3 begins June 16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Jun. 3, 2015, 3:50 PM
- Activision Blizzard (ATVI +1.6%) is extending its popular $3B Skylanders game/toy franchise -- with 20 vehicles.
- Skylanders Superchargers adds land, sky and sea vehicles to let players race through various terrain and environments along with 20 new characters. The game is out Sept. 20.
- Activision's getting increasing competition in this toys-to-life genre it pioneered, not only with Disney's Infinity (NYSE:DIS) and Nintendo's Amiibo (OTCPK:NTDOY), but also Lego, planning a game where players' real-life brick creations can be played inside the videogame.
- While Disney and Nintendo have a stable of characters to draw on, Activision may need new "hooks" (like vehicles) with each release since its characters are original creations.
- Activision reported that (including toys) Skylanders was the No. 1 console franchise and title globally in Q1 and outsold the No. 1 action figure line globally.
- Toys-to-life needs something new, though; trailing-12-months sales in the category grew just 2% in Q1 vs. 45% a year earlier.
May 20, 2015, 9:36 PM
- Overruling an objection, a Delaware judge has signed off on a $275M shareholder settlement related to Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) -- the largest ever for a shareholder derivative suit.
- The case -- a challenge to Activision's $8B deal to acquire its stock that was held by Vivendi, which claimed it unfairly benefited Activision's CEO and co-chairman -- was settled last year when Activision agreed to the resolution.
- As a shareholder derivative lawsuit, the case was brought by investor Anthony Pacchia suing on Activision's behalf, so the settlement was paid to Activision's treasury by Vivendi, insurers and an investor group including CEO Bobby Kotick and co-Chairman Brian Kelly.
May 15, 2015, 4:07 PM
- Senate Bill 9 has been passed by both legislative chambers in Nevada, clearing the way for skills-based casino floor games.
- The development also opens a door for videogame sellers to create or license casino versions of their popular titles.
- The casino industry has its eyes on attracting millennials after seeing the group show tepid demand for classic table games and slot machines.
- New Jersey and Mississippi have also set the stage for casino floor innovation with similar legislation.
- Previously: Paging Steve Nash to the Borgata (Feb. 13)
- Related stocks: CZR, WYNN, SGMS, ISLE, PNK, PENN, MCRI, CNTY, IGT, MGM, BYD, OTCQB:TPCA, ATVI, TTWO, EA.
- Related ETFs: BJK
May 7, 2015, 3:14 PM
- After trading lower in after-hours action and today's premarket following yesterday's Q1 earnings report, Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has risen 5.1% in today's trade as analysts look to game momentum and raise price targets.
- Q1 got a boost from the company's franchise successes in Call of Duty and Hearthstone, and now eyes turn to the June 2 release of Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard's response to Riot Games' League of Legends and an entry into a lucrative "multiplayer online battle arena" genre.
- The company provided some light Q2 guidance, but that could turn around depending on the new game, which is free to play but features in-game payments to unlock items, and which has 11M signups for a closed beta test.
- Baird, Cowen, Piper Jaffray, Barclays and Sterne Agee CRT all raised price targets to $27. Shares are trading today at $24.38.
- On the company's earnings call, it hinted at aggressive plans for content around its Destiny release, including "content being dropped throughout the summer" and "then in the fall we will have a major release, which will be the biggest addition to the universe yet, across all modes of play." The company claims 20M registered players for Destiny.
- Piper's Michael Olson points to recent and upcoming releases, including a new Guitar Hero and the Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 entry in November: "Management has historically under-promised and over-delivered."
May 6, 2015, 4:29 PM
- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) is 1.1% lower in postmarket trading after Q1 earnings where it beat on top and bottom lines but guided below consensus for Q2 results.
- Net revenue (GAAP) breakout: Product sales, $784M (up 1.95%); Subscription, licensing and other, $494M (up 44%). On a non-GAAP basis, net revenue from digital channels rose to a first-quarter record of $538M (76% of total revenues).
- The company is guiding to Q2 net revenues of $650M, vs $688.4M consensus, and adjusted EPS of $0.07 vs. a consensus of $0.08. For full 2015, its outlook has net revenues of $4.425B (vs. consensus of $4.435B) and EPS of $1.20 vs. consensus of $1.18.
- Shares jumped into the close, +2.2% on heavy (very late) volume, before the postmarket decline.
- Conference call at 4:30 p.m. ET.
May 6, 2015, 4:10 PM
- Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI): Q1 EPS of $0.16 beats by $0.09.
- Revenue of $703M (-8.9% Y/Y) beats by $47.64M.
- Shares +0.86%.
May 5, 2015, 5:35 PM
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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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