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Activision Blizzard, Inc (ATVI)

  • Dec. 12, 2014, 10:39 AM
    • Though Activision's (ATVI -1.5%) Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was (as expected) #1 in NPD's November U.S. physical retail game sale rankings, Call of Duty franchise sales were down 27% Y/Y and Activision's total sales down 22%.
    • That has led Piper to slash its Activision target by $3 to $24. "Strength in the Blizzard side of the business (WoW & HearthStone) should allow for an in-line Q4, but we are slightly lowering our estimates to now be in-line with company guidance."
    • Take-Two (TTWO +3.3%), meanwhile, has rallied towards its 52-week high after Grand Theft Auto V (recently become available on the Xbox One, PS4, and PCs) ranked #2. NBA 2K15 was #8, down one spot from October. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel fell out of the top-10.
    • Electronic Arts' (EA +0.5%) Madden NFL 15 rose four spots to #4, but FIFA 15 fell out of the top-10. BofA/Merrill has hiked its targets (I, II) for both EA and Take-Two following NPD's numbers: It's optimistic EA can continue growing margins thanks to growing digital sales and cost controls, and argues Take-Two deserves a multiple similar to EA and Activision's.
    • NPD estimates total U.S. physical game sales fell 2% Y/Y in November to $1.09B, a much smaller drop than October's 27%. With next-gen consoles having launched a year ago, hardware sales fell an estimated 23% to $1.01B, with the Xbox One (1.2M sales) outselling the PS4 following a $50 early-November price cut.
    • Wedbush's Michael Pachter thinks game sales growth may have been positive after accounting for downloads and the frequent bundling of games with consoles. Meanwhile, Superdata Research estimates total digital game spend rose 23% Y/Y during the Thanksgiving period.
  • Nov. 20, 2014, 12:06 PM
    • After announcing yesterday afternoon World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor had sold 3.3M+ copies following 24 hours of availability, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) announced today Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (launched on Nov. 3) "is the biggest entertainment launch of the year, besting not only all other video games, but also the biggest movies, music and books launched in 2014."
    • Activision adds Advanced Warfare is " the highest-selling digital launch in console history according to Xbox Live, PlayStation Network and internal Activision estimates," and that users played an estimated 370M+ online matches in the week following the game's release.
    • Also: Activision says the company has settled a class-action suit related to last year's leveraged recap deal with Vivendi. "Various defendants" and insurance companies will pay $275M.
    • Piper (Overweight) thinks the Warcraft and Call of Duty announcements suggest upside to Q4 estimates.
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  • Nov. 19, 2014, 5:53 PM
    • Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) reports over 3.3M copies of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor were sold following the first 24 hours of availability following yesterday's launch. As a result, the WoW subscriber base, which stood at 7.4M at the end of Q3, is back above 10M.
    • Draenor, the fifth expansion for WoW, is sold through a $50 standard edition and a $70 deluxe edition. It launched yesterday in North America and Europe (among other places), and is launching today in China and Korea. NetEase (NASDAQ:NTES) remains Activision's Chinese WoW partner.
    • While reviews have mostly been positive, initial Draenor users have complained about overtaxed servers. Activision/Blizzard is giving them five days of free subscription time to make up for it.
    • ATVI +1.2% AH.
  • Nov. 14, 2014, 5:35 PM
    • After coming in at #1 in NPD's September U.S. retail video game rankings (following a blockbuster Sep. 9 launch), Activision's (NASDAQ:ATVI) Destiny fell to #5 in October. Take-Two's (NASDAQ:TTWO) NBA 2K15, which launched on Oct. 7, took its place at the top.
    • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, launched by Take-Two on Oct. 14, was #4. Skylanders Trap Team, which Activision released on Oct. 2, was #6.
    • Electronic Arts' (NASDAQ:EA) FIFA 15 and Madden NFL 15 were #7 and #8, down from #3 and #2 in September. The Sims 4 fell out of the top-10, as did Activision's Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.
    • Altogether, NPD estimates U.S. physical retail game sales fell 27% Y/Y to $350.3M. They were down 36% in September, thanks in part to tough comps caused by last year's GTA V launch. Xbox One/PS4 demand led console sales to rise 59% to $273.6M; Microsoft cut One prices by $50 early in November.
    • The digital transition continues: SuperData Research estimates U.S. digital game spending rose 12% Y/Y in October to $957M.
    • Activision's Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare launched on Nov. 3, and should be at or near the top of NPD's November rankings. Metacritic gives the game a score of 77/100.
    • ATVI -1.2% in regular trading. TTWO +2.5%. EA +0.1%.
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  • Nov. 11, 2014, 6:59 AM
    • Cowen Research forecasts physical console/handheld videogame sales fell 23% in October.
    • Related stocks: GameStop (NYSE:GME), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI)
  • Nov. 5, 2014, 9:16 AM
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  • Nov. 4, 2014, 4:42 PM
    • Though it beat Q3 estimates, Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) is guiding for Q4 revenue of $2.2B and EPS of $0.86, below a consensus of $2.34B and $0.94.
    • The World of Warcraft sub base rose by 600K Q/Q in Q3 to 7.4M, a reversal from Q2's 800K decline. Hearthstone registered users have topped 20M, and Destiny registered users 9.5M.
    • 43% of revenue came from digital channels, 50% from retail channels, and 7% from distribution.
    • 40% of revenue came from next-gen consoles, 24% of older consoles, 18% from online gaming/content, 8% from PC games, 7% from distribution, and 3% from mobile games and other sources. Online revenue rose 15% Y/Y to $209M; mobile/other revenue fell 36% to $35M.
    • GAAP costs/expenses rose 20% Y/Y to $745M, thanks in part to a 53% increase in sales/marketing spend to $221M.
    • Q3 results, PR
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  • Nov. 4, 2014, 4:12 PM
    • Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI): Q3 EPS of $0.23 beats by $0.10.
    • Revenue of $1.17B (+78.1% Y/Y) beats by $160M.
    • Press Release
  • Nov. 3, 2014, 5:35 PM
  • Oct. 31, 2014, 5:28 PM
    • Sony (SNE +5.8%) sold 3.3M PlayStation 4 units in calendar Q3, up from 2.7M in Q2 and easily outpacing the 2.4M Xboxes sold by Microsoft in Q3. In addition, Sony reported its gaming unit posted a $195M profit, up from $43M in Q2 thanks to rising PS4 game royalties.
    • VG Chartz estimates Sony has cumulatively sold 12.3M PS4 units since last fall, and Microsoft 6.1M Xbox One units. To boost sales, Microsoft recently slashed Xbox One prices by $50 - starting Nov. 2, the One sells for $349 without a Kinect, and $449 with one.
    • Electronic Arts (EA +2.8%), Activision (ATVI +1.9%), and Take-Two (TTWO +4.7%) outperformed again today. All three game developers rallied yesterday after Take-Two posted a big FQ2 beat on the back of strong sales for Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K14, and Borderlands 2. EA jumped thanks to an FQ2 beat and strong EPS guidance the day before.
    • GameStop (GME +1.5%) and PS4 CPU/GPU supplier AMD (AMD +1.8%) are likely also happy with Sony's PS4 sales figure.
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  • Oct. 17, 2014, 1:55 PM
    • With last year's Grand Theft Auto V (TTWO +0.3%) launch skewing comps, NPD estimates U.S. physical retail video game sales fell 36% Y/Y in September to $481.2M, a worse decline than August's 21% drop.
    • The ongoing spending shift towards digital channels naturally contributed to the drop as well: SuperData Research estimates digital game spend rose 8.6% Y/Y in September to $873M.
    • Hardware spend rose 136% Y/Y (up from August's 116%) thanks to next-gen console demand: NPD thinks PS4 sales nearly tripled from August levels with the help of Sony's (SNE +1.8%) Destiny bundle, and outpaced Xbox One sales yet again. GameStop (GME +2.7%) investors approve of the numbers.
    • Electronic Arts (EA +4.5%) is rallying after Madden NFL 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15, and The Sims 4 respectively came in at #2, #3, #6, and #8 on NPD's top-10 list. Of the four games, only Madden was on the August list (#1 in its launch month). Battlefield 4 (#9 in August) fell out of the top-10.
    • As expected, Activision's (ATVI -0.5%) Destiny was #1. But Diablo III: Reaper of Souls fell to #10 from #2, and Call of Duty: Ghosts (#5 in August) dropped out of the top-10. Activision, like Take-Two, is sitting out a market rally.
    • EA reports on Oct. 28, Take-Two on Oct. 29, Sony on Oct. 31, and Activision on Nov. 4.
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  • Oct. 14, 2014, 1:19 PM
    • Cowen Research estimates physical handheld/console sales fell 41% Y/Y in September.
    • The month was a tough compare with Grand Theft Auto V a hot seller last year.
    • Related stocks: GameStop (NYSE:GME), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI).
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  • Sep. 23, 2014, 1:49 PM
    • Following multiple delays, Activision's (ATVI -1.6%) Blizzard unit has pulled the plug on developing Titan, a next-gen MMORPG viewed as the successor to the World of Warcraft cash cow.
    • Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime: "We didn't find the fun ... We didn't find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that's the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no."
    • As it is, VentureBeat reported last year Activision had "decided to push the reset button" on Titan, and that the game wasn't set to launch before 2016 at the earliest. Blizzard SVP Chris Metzen says a "sense of inertia and obligation and identity that we hold in ourselves and the community may also hold toward us" compelled Blizzard to try and make a new MMORPG, before ultimately changing its mind.
    • Metzen adds the popularity of smaller Blizzard releases such as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm contributed to its decision. "I think the lesson that comes around again is just making damn sure that the things we commit to do ... are coming from a place of focus and inspiration."
    • Activision's move comes as the Warcraft base continues declining: It declined by 800K in Q2 to 6.8M. Meanwhile, first-person shooter Destiny, which Activision hopes will be its next billion-dollar franchise (joining Call of Duty and Skylanders), recently produced first-day sales of ~$500M.
  • Sep. 10, 2014, 11:00 AM
    • After going on sale at more than 11,000 midnight openings around the world yesterday, Activision (ATVI -1.6%) says its new shooter title, Destiny, generated $500M in revenue in its first day.
    • At $60 a copy, it was the most pre-ordered game in history that wasn’t a sequel, says Cowen Research analyst Doug Creutz. Destiny is expected to draw 10M players on its first day, following the record 4.6M that tested the beta release in July.
    • Activision is spending as much as $500M to develop and market Destiny, resulting in it being one of the most expensive games ever to hit the industry.
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  • Sep. 9, 2014, 7:52 AM
    • A channel check from Cowen Research analyst Doug Creutz indicates video game console/handheld software sales fell 10% Y/Y in August.
    • The monthly tally would look even worse if not for the positive comp delivered by this year's Madden NFL game.
    • Related stocks GameStop (NYSE:GME), Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), Take-Two Interactive (NASDAQ:TTWO), and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI).
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  • Aug. 29, 2014, 11:29 AM
    • Take-Two (TTWO +4.1%) president Karl Slatoff says his company is weighing the pros and cons of bringing Grand Theft Auto to the big screen. He adds Take-Two doesn't think a weak box office showing would hurt the GTA game franchise.
    • Dan Houser, the co-founder of GTA developer Rockstar Games, also appears open to doing a GTA movie. However, he insists Rockstar would want to make the film on its own.
    • Benchmark's Mike Hickey thinks a GTA film makes sense, and that it could compel Activision (ATVI +0.3%), rumored to be hatching plans for its own movie studio, to acquire Take-Two.
    • Hickey calls an Activision/Take-Two deal a "no-brainer," given Take-Two's developer talent, IP, and low valuation. He notes Activision can lower its business volatility by staggering Rockstar, Bungie, and Blizzard releases, and that Take-Two could help offset World of Warcraft's ongoing decline and Skylanders competition from Disney.
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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.