As the holiday season approaches, many videogame makers plan to cash in on the increased U.S. consumer spending by selling popular new game releases. Two of those companies - and their stocks - are especially well poised to benefit: Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO), according to KeyBanc analyst Evan Wingren. He expects both of these companies to exceed consensus expectations. "[We] would be buying shares,” Wingren said per Barron’s.
The four biggest companies may do well as far as sales. Wingren says he expects revenues of Activision, Take-Two, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) and Ubisoft to grow 20% year over year in the fourth quarter. “We remain positive on videogames into what should be a strong holiday,” he wrote. (To read more, see: Gaming ETFs Take Off.)
Video Game Stocks vs. The Market
|Activision Blizzard||+ 26.8%|
|Take-Two Interactive||+ 20.3%|
|Electronic Arts||+ 9.5%|
|Ubisoft Entertainment||+ 42.6%|
|S&P 500||+ 9.6%|
Data: As of NYSE close 9/21
Driving Activision’s sales will be the new “Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII” game, the latest version of its hit game, along with expansions of its “World of Warcraft” and “Destiny” franchises. Investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray expects the “Call of Duty” game to sell 5 million more units than the previous version, while Morgan Stanley estimates earnings per share to increase by about 1% for every 1 million units of the game sold.
The new “Black Ops IIII” game introduces a new “Blackout” mode of play, allowing for a full-on battle royale gaming experience where 100 people play at once. The new mode of play, along with a recent move to launch a mobile version of “Call of Duty” in China, is likely to attract even more gamers and provide new avenues for monetization. (To read more, see: Activision Blizzard Stock Retests Key Resistance.)
Sales of Take-Two will be mainly driven by “Red Dead Redemption 2”, but “NBA 2K” and “GTA Online” will also provide a boost. Considering that Take-Two's “Grand Theft Auto V" previously broke the record for being the best-selling videogame in 24 hours and was also the fastest entertainment property to generate $1 billion, the release of “Red Dead Redemption 2” is no trivial matter.
While the new game release will boost Take-Two’s revenues, they also boast a relatively strong balance sheet. Strong sales from the game GTA V have helped the company to pay down debt, allowing them to finance expenses through cash and other liquid assets. The reduction in long-term debt is an indicator that the company is thriving and continuing to grow.