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Activision Q1 2010 Results Better Than Expected

by Rainier on May 6, 2010 @ 4:45 p.m. PDT

Activision Blizzard announced better-than-expected financial results for the first quarter 2010. Their revenue for the quarter ended March 31, 2010, was $1.3B, fueled by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 sales and World of Warcraft subscription revenue.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2010, Activision Blizzard's GAAP net revenues were $1.3 billion, and its non-GAAP net revenues were $714 million.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2010, Activision Blizzard's reported GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.30, and the company's non-GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.09.

Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, stated, "Our better-than-expected first quarter performance was driven by strong global consumer demand for Activision's Call of Duty and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft. Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the #1 title overall in the U.S. and Europe for the quarter, which illustrates the continued momentum of our catalogue. Additionally, during the quarter, Activision launched DreamWorks' How To Train Your Dragon and the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Stimulus Package, which shattered Xbox LIVE records with more than one million packages downloaded in the first 24 hours."

Kotick continued, "Throughout the remainder of the year, we plan to release our strongest video game lineup ever based on some of the industry's highest quality, profitable franchises. We expect to deliver record calendar year non-GAAP net earnings and expanded non-GAAP operating margins. In addition, we continue to strengthen our franchise portfolio and development resources for the future. Our high-quality brands, industry leading operational capabilities and solid balance sheet should enable us to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the expanding interactive entertainment market and allow us to deliver continued superior returns to our shareholders.

"As of March 31, 2010, we have delivered compound shareholder returns of 28% compared to the S & P average of -2 % over a ten-year period. We continue to find ways to add profitable franchises that allow us to increase our operating margins. In this regard we recently announced a ten-year alliance with Bungie, one of the premier studios in our industry. This relationship will allow Activision to broaden its product portfolio with exciting new games and underscores our commitment to partnering with the best creative talent in the industry," Kotick added.

Business Highlights

For the quarter ended March 31, 2010, according to The NPD Group, Charttrack and Gfk, in the U.S. and Europe, Activision's Call of Duty was the #1 third-party franchise, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 became the #1 best-selling third-party video game of all time. Additionally, in the U.S., Activision Blizzard was the #1 third-party publisher for the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS , according to The NPD Group.

Other business highlights are as follows:

  • For the quarter, in the U.S., Activision's Band Hero and Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2010 were top-10 titles on the Nintendo Wii, according to The NPD Group.
  • Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King were top-10 U.S. PC titles for the quarter, according to The NPD Group.
  • On February 10, 2010, Activision Blizzard announced that its Board of Directors had authorized a stock repurchase program under which the company can repurchase up to $1 billion of the company's stock. As of March 31, 2010, the company had purchased $92 million, or approximately 8.5 million shares, of common stock at an average price of $10.84 per share under this program.
  • On April 2, 2010, Activision Blizzard paid a cash dividend of $0.15 per common share to shareholders of record at the close of business on February 22, 2010.
  • On March 2, 2010, Activision Publishing announced the formation of a new business unit dedicated to the Call of Duty franchise that is expected to further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies and with new margin expanding digital business models. Additionally, the company announced that it expects to release a new Call of Duty game in 2011. The new business unit is being headed by Philip Earl, who previously was responsible for Activision Publishing's Asia Pacific region and has held senior executive positions with Procter & Gamble and Nestle.
  • On April 29, 2010, Bungie, the developer of blockbuster game franchises including Halo, Myth and Marathon, and Activision announced an exclusive 10-year alliance to bring Bungie's next big action game universe to market.
  • On May 3, 2010, Blizzard Entertainment announced that its highly anticipated real-time strategy game, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, will arrive in stores throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau starting on July 27, 2010.

Company Outlook

For the second quarter of calendar year 2010, Activision Publishing expects to release four exciting games – its new racing title Blur, which delivers a fun and accessible experience; Shrek Forever After, which is based on DreamWorks Animation's upcoming feature film; an original Transformers game, Transformers: War For Cybertron, and Singularity.

Activision Blizzard's outlook is subject to significant risks and uncertainties including declines in demand for its products, competition, litigation and associated costs, fluctuations in foreign exchange and tax rates, counterparty risks relating to customers, licensees, licensors and manufacturers and risks relating to the ongoing ability of Blizzard Entertainment's licensee,, Inc., to operate World of Warcraft in China on a paying basis without interruption.

The company's outlook is also based on assumptions about sell through rates for its products, and the launch timing, success and pricing of its new slate of products. Current macroeconomic conditions increase those risks and uncertainties. As a result of these and other factors, actual results may deviate materially from the outlook presented below.

For calendar year 2010, Activision Blizzard still expects GAAP net revenues of $4.2 billion and non-GAAP net revenues of $4.4 billion, which were provided on February 10, 2010.

The company is increasing its calendar year GAAP earnings per diluted share outlook to $0.49, as compared with its prior GAAP earnings per diluted share outlook of $0.47, which was provided on February 10, 2010. On a non-GAAP basis, the company now expects earnings per diluted share of $0.72, as compared to its prior non-GAAP earnings per diluted share outlook of $0.70, provided on February 10, 2010.

For the second quarter 2010, Activision Blizzard expects GAAP net revenues of $925 million, and GAAP earnings per diluted share of $0.11. On a non-GAAP basis, the company expects net revenues of $700 million and $0.04 earnings per diluted share for the second quarter.

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