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Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO) reported earnings that beat financial expectations for the third fiscal quarter ended December 31. The company managed to make adjusted net income in the quarter even though it didn’t have a gigantic benefit from a Grand Theft Auto game.
Wall Street always pays close attention to Take-Two’s capability to stay profitable long after the initial launch of a Grand Theft Auto, and the financial performance in the most recent quarter says a great deal about the company and how it makes money these days. In years past, Take-Two would lose money in non-GTA years, but now it isn’t entirely dependent on just a single intellectual property and its Rockstar Games label, such as its highly regarded NBA 2K series or the digital revenue from back catalog sales.
Grand Theft Auto V, originally released in 2013, has now sold-in more than 60 million copies across all platforms to retailers, making it one of the biggest video game hits of all time. Even this long after its initial release, GTAV and Grant Theft Auto Online were among the biggest contributors to revenues in the quarter. Other big games were NBA 2K16, WWE 2K16, and the Borderlands series.
The New York-based company reported non-GAAP earnings per share of 89 cents per share (versus a loss of $1.87 a year ago) on revenues of $486.8 million (versus $954 million a year ago). Analysts had expected non-GAAP earnings per share of 50 cents on revenues of $452.8 million.
During the quarter, Take-Two didn’t have much of a release slate. Last year, it had the benefit of Grand Theft Auto V continuing sales and Grand Theft Auto Online a year earlier. But like other publishers, Take-Two is getting a benefit from continuing digital game sales. In the holiday quarter, revenue from recurrent consumer spending (virtual currency, downloadable add-on content, and online games) grew 45 percent from a year ago and accounted for 54 percent of non-GAAP revenue. Digital revenue was 44 percent of total revenue, and catalog sales accounted for $235.3 million in sales.
Non-GAAP revenues are used because U.S. accounting rules require that publishers defer a portion of revenue from online games, partly due to the unpredictable nature of subscriptions.
In after-hours trading, Take-Two’s stock is up 6 percent to $35.01 a share. Take-Two said it was raising its financial outlook for the fiscal year ending March 2016.
““During the holiday season, Take-Two enjoyed immense consumer demand for its recent releases and catalog, enabling the company to deliver another quarter of strong revenue, Non-GAAP earnings and cash flow,” said Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two, in a statement. “These outstanding results were driven by robust sales of Grand Theft Auto V, NBA 2K16 and WWE 2K16, along with our highest-ever revenue from recurrent consumer spending.
“As a result of our third quarter outperformance and solid forecast for the balance of the year, we are once again raising our financial outlook for fiscal 2016, which is poised to be another year of meaningful profits for Take-Two. Looking ahead, we have an extensive development pipeline that positions our company for revenue growth and margin expansion over the long-term. We are excited about this Friday’s release of XCOM 2, which has received stellar early review scores, and anticipation already is building for the fiscal 2017 launches of Battleborn and Mafia III.”
During the quarter, Take-Two’s Rockstar label announced the departure of Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North and a key development leader on Grand Theft Auto.
In the fourth fiscal quarter ending March 31, Take-Two expects non-GAAP net revenue of $260 million to $310 million, and non-GAAP net income per diluted share of 15 cents to 25 cents.
Take-Two said its release schedule is as follows:
- XCOM 2 (PC, Mac, Linux) February 5, 2016
- WWE 2K16: 2015 Hall of Fame Showcase DLC (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360) February 23, 2016
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (Android) February 2016
- Civilization Revolution 2 Plus (PlayStation Vita) Fiscal 4Q 2016
- Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC) May 3, 2016
- Mafia III (PS4, Xbox One, PC) Fiscal Year 2017
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