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Activision Blizzard, Inc (ATVI)

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  • Wed, May 20, 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.
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  • Fri, May 15, 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
    | 10 Comments
  • Thu, May 7, 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."
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  • Wed, May 6, 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.
    • Press Release
    | 5 Comments
  • Wed, May 6, 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%.
    • Press Release
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  • Tue, May 5, 5:35 PM
  • Mon, Apr. 20, 9:13 PM
    • Blizzard Entertainment (NASDAQ:ATVI) has set a June 2 release date for its Heroes of the Storm game -- a "multiplayer online battle arena" game that will combine characters from Blizzard classics and let players fight them against one another.
    • The game follows in the footsteps of battle games like Marvel vs. Capcom or Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. in that it allows players to fight characters from divergent game universes -- but in its case, drawing from wildly popular game franchises including WarCraft, Starcraft and Diablo.
    • MOBA games have seen massive market successes and Blizzard is joining in with what it calls a "team brawler" with an approachable sense of humor. The game will be free to play and focus on cooperative play but will feature a draft-style system for more experienced players.
    • Blizzard's key franchises have collectively earned the company more than $4B over the past 20 years.
    | 12 Comments
  • Fri, Apr. 17, 5:39 PM
    • A new version of popular series Battlefield wasn't enough to boost video game sales in March, as software sales slipped 3% Y/Y to $395.4M. But software was positively solid compared to game hardware sales that slipped 21% Y/Y to $311.1M, according to NPD Group.
    • In new retail games, Battlefield: Hardline (NASDAQ:EA), a cops-and-robbers version of the war-game series, led sales charts followed by another new entry, action role-player Bloodborne (NYSE:SNE) which was strong despite being a PS4 exclusive.
    • The top five was rounded out by Grand Theft Auto V (NASDAQ:TTWO), Mario Party 10 (OTCPK:NTDOY), and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (NASDAQ:ATVI).
    • Physical software sales showed sharp declines for previous-generation consoles, which points to the health of the new generation (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U), whose software sales increased 58% Y/Y.
    • In hardware, Sony says PS4 again topped the charts, but everyone's doing well in the new generation: “This is the 17th month of sales for the Xbox One and PS4, whose combined cumulative hardware sales are over 50% higher than the combined 17-month cumulative sales totals for the Xbox 360 and PS3,” said NPD's Liam Callahan.
    • In a market down more than 1% today, GameStop (NYSE:GME) did worse, down 3.1%.
    • And in other EA news, at the ongoing "Star Wars Celebration" event going on in Anaheim, Calif., today's news included the reveal trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront wowing fans. Launching Nov. 17, the game showcases high-definition visuals but takes a somewhat risky move of dropping single-player missions entirely for cooperative and multiplayer.
    | 2 Comments
  • Tue, Apr. 14, 12:57 PM
    • 5 years after the last update to the music game franchise appeared, Activision's (ATVI -0.4%) FreeStyleGames studio is launching a new Guitar Hero title on major consoles and iOS/Android this fall, replete with a new controller (i.e. plastic guitar) and multiplayer modes.
    • Initial reactions from testers of the game, known as Guitar Hero Live, have been positive. The shift to a first-person view (on a virtual concert stage) receives high marks, as does the fact the new controller (features 6 fret buttons instead of 5) doesn't require using a pinky finger.
    • Also: It looks as if Activision won't be requiring users to buy new titles to get more content. Instead, they can play songs over music videos through a free online service called Guitar Hero TV.
    • The Guitar Hero franchise has produced over 25M unit sales over its lifetime, yielding retail revenue of $2B.
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  • Fri, Mar. 13, 5:15 PM
    • NPD estimates U.S. physical retail game sales rose 7% Y/Y in February to $338.9M, up from January's 5% growth and better than expected. Hardware sales rose 10% to $378.2M, as next-gen console demand remains healthy. Superdata Research estimates digital game revenue rose just 2% to $995M, thanks to weak mobile and social game sales.
    • Nintendo (OTCPK:NTDOY) had a good month: The recently-refreshed 3DS XL handheld was February's top-selling console - Ninetendo says 394K 3DS units were sold - and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D (launched on Feb. 13) topped NPD's game rankings.
    • Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO) also did well: Evolve (launched on Feb. 10) was #2 on NPD's list, GTA V came in at #5 (down from January's #3) ahead of its March 24 PC launch, and NBA 2K15 was at #6 (down from #5). Take-Two recently said it was "very pleased" with Evolve's launch.
    • Activision's (NASDAQ:ATVI) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare fell two spots to #4, while Destiny (#9 last month) fell out of the top-10. Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:EA) Madden NFL 15 and FIFA 15 also dropped out.
    • Piper observes Take-Two and Activision's NPD sales were respectively up 72% and 16% Y/Y in February, and that EA's were down 32% over the first two months of 2015. It maintains Overweight ratings on all 3 firms.
    • Take-Two rose 3.9% in regular trading thanks to the numbers. GameStop (NYSE:GME) also got a lift, rising 3.5%. Activision rose 0.9% and EA rose 0.4%.
    | 5 Comments
  • Fri, Mar. 6, 6:39 PM
    • Blackrock Mountain, the latest expansion for Blizzard's (NASDAQ:ATVI) popular Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft strategy card game, will "[thrust] Hearthstone players into the middle of a war between powerful forces battling for control of the mountain," and "introduce a slew of new hot-headed bosses to put players dueling skills to the test."
    • A trailer video has been provided for the expansion, which becomes available in April on PCs and tablets. Each "wing" will cost either $6.99 or 700 in-game gold; the full expansion can be bought for $24.99. Activision stated in its Q4 CC (transcript) Hearthstone has "attracted more than 25 million registered players" over its lifetime.
    • The announcement comes shortly after Blizzard disclosed it's planning a subscription-free payment option for World of Warcraft: Users will be able to buy tokens from WoW's auction house and redeem them for 30 days of game time, as well as sell purchased tokens for in-game gold.
    • Token-for-gold swaps will be based on a rate determined by a formula created by Blizzard. The WoW subscriber base has been gradually declining in recent years, though it did rise by 2.6M (to over 10M) in Q4 thanks to the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.
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  • Wed, Feb. 11, 11:08 AM
    • Worlds (OTCQB:WDDD) has added Activision's (NASDAQ:ATVI) recently-launched World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to its existing infringement suit  (handled by a Massachusetts federal court) against the game developer.
    • A ruling on an Oct. 2014 Markman hearing for the suit, which revolves around patents relating to 3D virtual worlds within MMORPGs, is expected soon. Worlds soared shortly after the Markman hearing was held.
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  • Mon, Feb. 9, 7:21 AM
    • A state senate bill floating around in Nevada proposes to allow more games of skill than chance on the floors of casinos in the state.
    • A passage of the bill could set off a flood of new casino games based off of popular videogames.
    • Videogames at casinos are seen as a way to draw in more of the 75M millennials who as a group have shied away from slot machines and games of blind luck.
    • The potential also exists to introduce gambling through apps for games in Nevada and create cash tournaments online.
    • Related stocks: LVS ,CZR, BYD, MGM, WYNN, SGMS, ATVI, TTWO, EA.
    | 15 Comments
  • Fri, Feb. 6, 12:27 PM
    • Off sharply yesterday after posting mixed Q4 results and offering soft Q1/2015 guidance, Activision (ATVI +1.4%) has erased its losses and then some today.
    • Sell-side defenses of the game giant are helping its cause. Wedbush's Michael Pachter: "The company has historically been exceedingly conservative with its guidance, and over the last ten years, has consistently beaten the expectations it sets early in the year ... this year is no different."
    • Pachter notes the guidance assumes no contribution from StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void or a still-unnamed title from Activision Publishing, only small contributions from Call of Duty Online and Heroes of the Storm, and flat Call of Duty and Skylanders revenue. He thinks there could be as much as $750M in upside to full-year guidance.
    • Brean's Todd Mitchell observes forex and a higher tax rate contributed to the guidance. "While Activision is known for its conservative guidance, it seems exaggerated for 2015 in light of the potential for strong sell through of its major franchises, the positive feedback loop of scale for [downloadable content] including an alluded "mega" digital content offering for Destiny, and strong prospects for Blizzard's free-to-play title."
    • In addition, Mitchell expects "the PS4/Xbox One console base to continue to outpace the prior-gen cycle throughout 2015, accelerating consumer preferences towards digital transactions and further consolidating the industry around blockbuster AAA franchises, a segment which Activision now dominates."
    • On the CC (transcript), Activision Publishing chief Eric Hirshberg disclosed Destiny "now has over 16 million registered users with a massive audience of active players still averaging over 3 hours of game play per day." Blizzard chief Michael Morhaime mentioned Hearthstone now has over 25M registered users.
    | 7 Comments
  • Fri, Feb. 6, 9:12 AM
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  • Thu, Feb. 5, 6:34 PM
    • Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) expects Q1 revenue of $640M and EPS of $0.05, well below a consensus of $777.7M and $0.18. Full-year guidance (harder to project for a game developer) is for revenue of $4.4B and EPS of $1.15, below a consensus of $4.71B and $1.15.
    • The board has authorized a new $750M buyback program. It lasts through Feb. 2017, and is good for repurchasing 5% of shares at current levels. Activision also plans to pay off a $250M term loan; the company had $4.3B in debt at the end of Q4, and $4.8B in cash.
    • Thanks to the launch of the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack, the World of Warcraft subscriber base was above 10M at the end of 2014, up from 7.4M at the end of Q3.
    • The expansion pack drove a 98% Y/Y increase in online revenue to $398M. However, console revenue fell 15% to $1.22B, thanks to a 48% drop in prior-gen console revenue to $599M; next-gen console revenue more than doubled to $630M. PC game revenue rose 14% to $127M; mobile/other revenue fell 18% to $269M; and distribution revenue rose 6% to $190M.
    • 31% and 46% of Q4 and full-year revenue respectively came from digital channels, up from 16% and 36% a year earlier. Q4 GAAP R&D spend fell 7% to $184M, and sales/marketing 3% to $247M.
    • Shares have fallen to $20.05 AH.
    • Q4 results, PR
    | 9 Comments
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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.