GamesBeat

As games underwhelm, Take-Two Interactive misses Wall Street targets

Take-Two Interactive reported solid quarterly earnings and revenues, but fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

It was a tough day to report earnings, as the stock market tanked and the Nasdaq fell almost 7 percent on Monday. Earlier in the day, Take-Two’s share price fell 98 cents, or 8 percent, to $11.16 a share. In advance of earnings, Take-Two after-hours trading was halted.

The results show that it can be tough for game companies that don’t have more frequent releases of hit games. In after-hours trading, Take-Two’s stock fell another 4 percent to $10.61 a share.

Take-Two continues to draw a ton of attention  for making some of the best games in the business, like the recently launched LA Noire (pictured), which has gotten widespread praise for its strong storytelling, characters, and realistic depiction of human faces. That game launched on May 17 and did well in the first quarter. L.A. Noire has sold more than 4 million units to date.

Net revenue for the quarter ended June 30 was $334.4 million, down from $375.4 million a year ago. The GAAP loss from continuing operations was $8.6 million, or 11 cents a share, compared to GAAP net income of $27.4 million, or 31 cents a share, a year earlier.

Take-Two reported first fiscal quarter revenues of $334.4 million and non-GAAP earnings of 2 cents a share. Analysts expected revenues of $352 million and earnings per share of 10 cents.

One reason that Take-Two can’t match last year’s revenues is because last year had the advantage of strong sales of Red Dead Redemption. Take-Two said it met its own expectations for the quarter, but Wall Street anticipated better.

“While it may be tempting for me to wax eloquent on the world economy, I don’t think anyone wants me to do that on this call,” said Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two. “The entertainment industry is not counter-cyclical. Our strategy is designed to be good at any time,” with a focus on quality, he said.

“None of us wants to go into a storm, but if you have to weather one, I would like to take it from this seat,” he said.

During the quarter, New York-based Take-Two released Duke Nukem Forever, a comic and crude shooting game that was in the making for 15 years, will also ship on June 14. Duke Nukem got terrible reviews, garnering an average 54 out of 100 on the review aggregator site Metacritic. Still, despite the terrible reviews, Zelnick said that Duke Nukem Forever was among its leading games during the quarter, along with L.A. Noire, NBA 2K11 and Red Dead Redemption. Read Dead has sold more than 11 million units. NBA 2K11 has sold more than 5 million units. Take-Two did not say how many copies of Duke Nukem Forever sold.

Zelnick said the company has high hopes for upcoming titles BioShock Infinite, Spec Ops: The Line, and Borderlands 2 for the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2013. He reaffirmed the company’s outlook of producing $2 per share in earnings for the fiscal year 2013. Borderlands sold 4.5 million and the sequel will be demoed for the first time at Pax Prime and Gamescon later this month.

The company is also moving into digital online and mobile game platforms. It launched Sid Meier’s Civilization World for Facebook, and Sid Meier’s Pirates! for the iPad. It is also working on three online games with partners in Asia. It is also releasing more downloadable content. Civilization World has been “well received” by consumers but Zelnick gave no user numbers.

“It’s early days for all of this,” Zelnick said. “The business that Zyynga is in is only four years old. Interactive entertainment is drawing more and more customers.”

BioShock Infinite, another highly anticipated game, is expected to ship during 2012. The Darkness II will ship on Oct. 4, and Spec Ops: The Line will ship in the first half of fiscal 2013. Xcom, another sci-fi game, will launch on March 6, 2012. Take-Two didn’t say anything about launching the next Grand Theft Auto game.

Take-Two continues to make an online version of NBA 2K for China in partnership with Tencent. It is also collaborating with Nexon for an online game in Korea and has announced a massively multiplayer online game with XL Games in Asia. The NBA 2K online game has been in the works for a long time (since 2009) but the company gave no update on when it would debut. Digital game revenues in the quarter were $24.6 million, up 49 percent from a year ago.

For the 2012 fiscal year, Take-Two expected $1 billion to $1.1 billion in revenues and earnings per share of 10 to 35 cents. That forecast was unchanged. For the second quarter of fiscal 2012, the company expects revenues of $70 million to $80 million, as it has no major releases coming in the quarter. And it expects a loss of 55 cents to 65 cents a share in the quarter. That second fiscal quarter outlook is far weaker than analysts expected.

One of the problems facing the company is a possible NBA strike. If that happens, sales of the new NBA 2K12 basketball game slated for Oct. 4 could be in jeopardy. As for new platforms such as the Sony PlayStation Vita handheld and the Nintendo Wii U, the company said it is managing its research and development cycles as usual.


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