Take-Two Interactive’s stock price gets a shock from BioShock 2 delay

bioshock-2Yesterday’s announcement of a delay in Take-Two Interactive’s key game, BioShock 2, has led to a pounding on the stock market and a suggestion the company may be a takeover target again.

The stock is down 10 percent to $8.06 a share this morning. And a couple of analysts have lowered their earnings expectations since BioShock 2, which was due to arrive this fall, will now appear sometime in 2010. At the same time that Take-Two announced the delay, it also significantly lowered its guidance for the 2009 fiscal year that closes in November.

The original 2007 BioShock game, set in an eerie underwater utopia gone bad, was hailed as one of the most original games of the year, and the company hopes to sell millions of copies of the title at about $60 a piece. Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two, said he had high expectations for the game in a recent interview. But he also noted that the company will delay games for the sake of ensuring quality.

Now the company expects fiscal year 2009 revenue to hit $960 – $1.0 billion, down from $1.05 – $1.15 billion. Pro forma earnings per share will be a loss of 80 – 95 cents a share, compared to earlier guidance of breakeven to 20 cents a share profits. The New York-based company also cited weaker than anticipated sales of catalog titles and new games such as the MLB 2K9 baseball game.

Wedbush Morgan Securities lowered its revenue estimates to $987 million from $1.13 billion for the fiscal year 2009, and it now expects an 83 cents a share loss instead of a profit of 10 cents. Ben Schachter, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech, said Take-Two may be an attractive takeover target. Electronic Arts tried to take over the company in 2008 but withdrew its bid because it couldn’t agree on price.