Video game makers expected to post losses

The industry is suffering from declining sales and net losses.

By Benzinga Jul 30, 2012 4:37PM
By Nelson Hem, Benzinga Staff Writer

The video game industry is riding low expectations in the wake of last week's disappointing earnings and slashed guidance from Zynga (ZNGA) and a wider-than expected net loss from Nintendo (NTDOY).

Other video game makers are scheduled to report earnings this week, and analysts on average expect to see net losses and declining sales from Electronic Arts (EA), Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) and THQ (THQI). Only Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is catching a break, with stronger sales expected to have buoyed its profit.

Analysts believe that Activision Blizzard, the company behind the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" franchises, will post a profit of 12 cents per share on revenue of $831.8 million. That would be up from 10 cents a share and $699 million a year earlier.

Analysts have underestimated Activision Blizzard's per-share earnings in each of the past 10 quarters. The company reports on Thursday.

Electronic Arts, the maker of the "Madden NFL" and "The Sims" games, is expected to report Tuesday that it net loss widened to 42 cents a share from 37 cents a year earlier. The company has beaten earnings expectations in the past six quarters, however. Revenue is projected to have fallen 4.3% to $501.4 million.

Take-Two Interactive, maker of the notorious "Grand Theft Auto" series, is expected to post a net loss of 65 cents per share on Tuesday, compared to a profit of 2 cents per share a year earlier. However, that estimate is down from a loss of 85 cents a share, which was the consensus 60 days ago. Revenue now is expected to have fallen more than 24% to $253.9 million.

The forecast for THQ, which offers WWE-affiliated games, calls for a net loss of $3.95 per share. That compares to a per-share loss of $9.40 a year earlier. Revenue is anticipated to have slumped more than 79% from the year-ago period to $29.3 million. THQ managed to beat low expectations for revenue the last time it reported earnings. The company reports on August 6.

Activision Blizzard has a long-term EPS growth forecast of about 11%, while those of the other three companies on this list are 14% or greater. But shares of those three are trading near 52-week lows, and the return on equity for Take-Two Interactive and THQ is in negative territory. Short interest in Take-Two Interactive and THQ makes up at least 14% of the float. Activision Blizzard is the only one of these four that offers a dividend; the yield is about 1.5%.

Analysts on average recommend buying shares of Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive. For the moment, the consensus price target for Activision Blizzard is about 23% above the current share price. Those for the other three game producers are at least 40% higher than the current share prices, which are all at least 30% lower this year. All four have underperformed the broader markets over the past six months.

More from Benzinga
Jul 30, 2012 5:33PM
Sears has the same problems JCP is facing; the middle class is dying, malls are being overrun by gangs (and let's be clear, that's the reason why malls have fallen out of favor). and trying to compete making cheap crap is already an overserved market; heck even Walmart is losing customers to the 99Cent type stores. This is an effect, not a cause, the cause is the ongoing, so far successful, attempt by the Republicans to remake the USA into a thrid world country.
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