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Activision Results Top Estimates

2/7/2013 5:39 PM ET

Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI: Quote), the world's largest video game publisher, said Thursday after the markets closed that its fourth quarter profit more than tripled from last year, driven by the success of Skylanders Giants and Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

The company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, also came in above analysts' expectations as did its adjusted revenue.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard, said, "We are very pleased to report that Activision Blizzard delivered the best performance in its history."

"In the short-term, we expect to continue delivering strong profitability, but below our record setting 2012 performance, due to a challenged global economy, the ongoing console transition and a difficult year-over-year comparison because of Blizzard's record-shattering Diablo III success in 2012," Kotick added.

Activision Blizzard shares are currently gaining 5.56% in after hours trading after closing the day's regular trading session at $12.06, up 12 cents or 1.01%. The shares trade in a 52-week range of $10.45 to $13.01.

Santa Monica, California-based Activision Blizzard, which is a subsidiary of French media and telecoms giant Vivendi SA, reported net income for the fourth quarter of $354 million or $0.31 per share, compared to $99 million or $0.08 per share for the year-ago quarter.

Excluding items, adjusted net income for the fourth quarter was $891 million or $0.78 per share, compared to $725 million or $0.62 per share in the prior year quarter.

On average, 24 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.72 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The maker of the "World of Warcraft" and "Call of Duty" titles said net revenues for the fourth quarter rose 25.5% to $1.77 billion from $1.41 billion a year ago. Excluding the net effect from deferral in net revenue and other items, the company's adjusted net revenues increased 8% to $2.60 billion from $2.41 million last year. Twenty-three analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of $2.44 million for the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter revenues from digital channels rose 24% from last year to $451 million and represented 25% of the company's total revenues, while revenues from retail channels increased 40% from a year earlier to $1.2 billion and represented 67% of the company's total revenues.

In November, the company released Black Ops II, which became the first video game ever to cross the $1 billion mark in 15-days, eclipsing "Avatar's" 17-day movie record.

In both North America and Europe, Skylanders Giants was the #1 best-selling kids' title in dollars for the fourth quarter.

As of December 31, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with more than 9.6 million subscribers.

Activision Publishing released Revolution, the first downloadable map pack for Black Ops II, on Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Xbox 360 on January 29. The company expects to release Revolution on other platforms during the first quarter. Additionally, Blizzard Entertainment expects to release StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm on March 12.

The companys declared a cash dividend of $0.19 per share, payable on May 15 to shareholders of record on March 20.

Looking forward to the first quarter, the company forecasts net revenue of $1.16 billion, adjusted net revenue of $690 million, earnings of $0.29 per share and adjusted earnings of $0.10 per share. Analysts currently expect the company to earn $0.10 per share on revenue of $710.41 million for the first quarter.

For the calender year 2013, the company now expects net revenue of $4.085 billion, adjusted net revenue of $4.175 billion, earnings of $0.68 per share and adjusted earnings of $0.80 per share.

Analysts currently expect the company to earn $0.97 per share on revenue of $4.56 billion for the full year 2013.

Earlier this week, another video-game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO) reported sharply higher third-quarter profit, as revenues soared on the launch of "NBA 2K13", along with continued demand for "Borderlands 2."

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by RTT Staff Writer

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