"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
NEW RELEASES: Among this week's big game releases is the PC port of Sony's (SNE) "Horizon Zero Dawn," which originally launched exclusively on the PlayStation 4 in 2017. The PC port launches August 7. Also getting a PC port in the U.S. is Sega's (SGAMY) "Phantasy Star Online 2," which becomes available on Steam starting August 5.
EA EARNINGS: Last week, Electronic Arts (EA) reported better-than-expected first quarter results, with both GAAP earnings per share and net bookings beating consensus estimates. “This was an extraordinary quarter, and we’re deeply proud of everything our teams at Electronic Arts are doing for our players and communities,” said CEO Andrew Wilson. The company, which also provided guidance for the second quarter and fiscal 2021, noted that net bookings for the trailing twelve months had increased 17% year-over-year.
“Player engagement through the first quarter was exceptionally high, and well above our forecast,” said COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen. “Our Stay Home, Play Together initiatives have been a strong tailwind for the business, as players look for safe and social entertainment in these difficult times. We are focused on delivering high quality titles for our players, combined with our incredible ongoing live services and increasing reach across platforms and geographies which should continue to expand our business over time.”
Following the report, multiple analysts increased their price targets on the stock, with Baird analyst Colin Sebastian saying that the game maker's overall engagement metrics for the quarter were impressive. Sebastian added that he sees few risks in terms of title launches this year with room for potential product catalysts from new sports and the more casual "Star Wars" title.
TAKE-TWO EARNINGS: Last night, Take-Two (TTWO) also reported results for its fiscal first quarter, with net bookings for the quarter growing 136% year-over-year to $996.2M, a Q1 record for the company. Net bookings from recurrent consumer spending grew 127% and accounted for 65% of total net bookings, the company said, noting that the largest contributors to net bookings in the quarter were "Grand Theft Auto Online" and Grand Theft Auto V"; "NBA 2K20"; "Red Dead Redemption 2" and Red Dead Online"; "Borderlands 3"; Social Point’s mobile offerings; "Sid Meier’s Civilization VI"; the "WWE" series; and "The Outer Worlds."
“Fiscal 2021 is off to a terrific start with first quarter operating results that significantly exceeded our expectations, including fiscal first quarter records for GAAP net revenue and Net Bookings”, said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “As a result of our better-than-expected first quarter operating results and increased forecast for the balance of the year, we are raising our fiscal 2021 outlook, which is poised to be another great year for Take-Two," Zelnick added.
Following the report, no fewer than nine securities analysts raised their price targets on the shares, though BofA analyst Ryan Gee downgraded Take-Two to Underperform from Neutral, saying that the upside in Q1 may already be priced in the shares. While there were few negatives on the earnings call, the 10% recurrent consumer spending growth guidance for fiscal Q2 is a sign of recent slowing and the sharp ramp up spending, the analyst said.
OTHER STORIES TO WATCH:
Business Insider reported on Thursday that the Nintendo Switch (NTDOY) continues to be sold out just about everywhere, with president Shuntaro Furakawa saying on a recent investor call that he's not sure when the company will be able to catch up with demand.
Microsoft (MSFT) intends to roll out Project xCloud, the company's game streaming service, on September 15 exclusively on Android (GOOG) devices, The Verge reported earlier today. The service will be bundled as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Take-Two's 2K Games announced a partnership on Thursday with OneTeam Partners and the National Football League Players Association that will allow the label to include National Football League players in multiple football games in development and set to launch starting in calendar year 2021.
Bloomberg reported last night that employees at Activision Blizzard's (ATVI) Blizzard Entertainment division anonymously circulated a spreadsheet detailing staff salaries and recent pay hikes. The report states that the company had undergone a review of compensation after an internal survey in 2019, and most of the raises were below 10%, or "significantly lower" than employees said they had expected.
Tommy Francois, vice president of editorial and creative services at Ubisoft (UBSFY), has been fired from his position after current and former colleagues accused him of sexual misconduct, according to Business Insider.