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Take-Two Interactive Software reported record sales and earnings for its third fiscal quarter, which ended on Dec. 31, thanks to enormous sales of Grand Theft Auto V.

GTA-V-trevor.jpgEverybody knew it would be a big quarter. Take-Two and its developer Rockstar Games scored a huge hit with GTA V, which launched on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on Sept. 17. The companies previously announced that the open-world crime drama had reached $800 million in sales in its first 24 hours and $1 billion in its first three days. Currently, the game has shipped more than 32.5 million copies to retailers.

The company reported earnings of $1.70 a share on revenues of $767 million (on a non-GAAP accounting basis). Analysts had expected Take-Two to report non-GAAP earnings of $1.37 a share on revenues of $704 million. The company itself had expected earnings of $1.20 to $1.35 a share on $650 million to $700 million. A year ago, Take-Two reported earnings per share of 67 cents on $405 million.

Take-Two also raised its expectations for the coming quarter and the fiscal year that ends March 31.

In after-hours trading, Take-Two’s stock price fell 1.32 percent to $18.65, 25 cents down from the stock market close. The company’s market value is $1.84 billion, and it has now beaten its own guidance for six quarters in a row. It has nearly $1 billion in cash.

GTA V received near-universal critical acclaim, scoring an average 98 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic and 95 out of 100 on GamesBeat. GTA V beat previous records set by the popular Call of Duty games and some of the records set by feature film box office revenues.

Take-Two said that its GTA V, NBA 2K14, and WWE 2K14 were the biggest hits. NBA 2K14 sold more than 5 million units.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities wrote in a research note before the earnings call that he had expect strong results not only for Grand Theft Auto V but NBA Live 2K14 as well. Pachter believes the October launch of the GTA Online, the multiplayer mode for GTA V, also helped boost sales. He lowered his estimates for the fourth fiscal quarter ending March 31 because Take-Two hasn’t announced any significant new titles.

GTA V took Rockstar more than five years to make on a reported budget of $260 million. It made that money back in a matter of hours on the day the game debuted.


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