Activision beats targets, stems ‘Warcraft’ slip
‘Modern Warfare 3’ and ‘Skylanders’ drive strong sales
The videogame publisher also was able to stem the subscriber losses on its key “World of Warcraft” property that sparked concern among investors in its last earnings report in November.
Activision ATVI +0.55% shares rose more than 2% in after-hours trading, after closing the regular session up 0.9% at $12.66.
The company issued a forecast for the current quarter that was below analysts’ expectations. The period will include the release of new downloadable content for “Call of Duty” but no new titles from the company’s Blizzard division.
For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Activision reported net income of $99 million, or 8 cents a share, compared to a net loss of $233 million, or 20 cents a share, for the same period the previous year.
Adjusted earnings came in at $725 million, or 63 cents a share, beating the consensus forecast for 56 cents a share in earnings, according to FactSet Research.
ATVI 12.73, +0
Net sales, also excluding deferred revenue, came in at $2.4 billion, compared to $2.17 billion in the same period last year. Analysts were expecting net sales of $2.2 billion.
The company said it ended the year with about $1.6 billion in digital revenue, making up about 34% of total revenue for the period.
The main driver for the fourth quarter was “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.” The company also said it has garnered more than 7 million registered users for its “Call of Duty Elite” online service, with about 1.5 million of those as paying members. The company also said its “Skylanders: Spyro Adventure” toy-based video game sold more than 20 million toy accessories during the period.
For the current quarter, Activision projected net sales of $525 million with adjusted earnings of 3 cents a share. Analysts were expecting net sales of about $779 million with earnings of 15 cents a share.
Several analysts were expecting the release of “Diablo 3” from Blizzard in the quarter; Activision only said in its statement that its full-year forecast includes the launch of two unnamed Blizzard titles, but that none were projected for the first quarter.
For “World of Warcraft,” the company said it ended the quarter with about 10.2 million subscribers — down only slightly from 10.3 million at the end of the third quarter.
The company had reported a 7% subscriber decline in the third quarter, which sparked a sell-off on the shares on worries that the lucrative franchise was losing steam ahead of the launch of “Star Wars: The old Republic” from rival publisher Electronic Arts EA +0.06%
Dan Gallagher is MarketWatch's technology editor, based in San Francisco.
|"Skylanders Spyro's Adventure(TM) was the biggest new IP launch in Activision's history and it is on track to become an important and sustainable franchise. In North America and Europe, including accessory packs and figures, Skylanders Spyro's Adventure was the #8 best-selling game in dollars for the fourth quarter of 2011 and #1 selling kids' title in dollars in the calendar year. Additionally, in North America, including accessory packs and figures, Skylanders Spyro's Adventure was the #10 best-selling title in dollars." - Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard|