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Earnings Preview: Overwatch, Call of Duty to watch over Activision Blizzard in Q4

Gaming giant Activision Blizzard (ATVI) is scheduled to announce its fourth-quarter 2018 results on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

For the three-month period, Activision Blizzard expects earnings of $0.64 a share on revenue of $2.24 billion. However, analysts expect more — about $1.29 per share on revenue of $3.05 billion.

This was the quarter that Activision expected strong holiday sales from its much-awaited addition to the Call of Duty series — Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

According to the company, Black Ops 4 was an instant hit, raking it better sales by beating the record for digital sales set by its 2017 predecessor Call of Duty: WWII.

 

TAKING THE FIGHT TO PUBg AND FORTNITE

The eSports arena has been crowded of late with the success of Tencent Holding’s (TCEHY) PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Epic Games’ Fortnite. But Activision Blizzard is out to get them.

 

Activision-Blizzard Q4 earnings
A screen grab from Activision-Blizzard’s popular eSports game OVERWATCH (Source: Activision-Blizzard)

Not only did Activision add a new Battle-Royale (BR) mode Blackout feature to its latest Call of Duty game, but it also has the title of being the developer that brought out Overwatch — a worthy eSports outing that has its own fan following.

However, all eyes would be on how the holiday gaming match-up went. Take-Two Interactive released its super hit Red Dead Redemption 2 in the holiday season. Not only did it side-line Electronic Arts’ (EA) Battlefield V launch, but the Rockstar Games’ offering also recorded the biggest opening weekend in retail sell-through across all entertainment releases — making over $725 million.

Take-Two Interactive Q3 Earnings: Red Dead Redemption redeems the gaming giant

Red Dead Redemption 2 went on to make history as the best-selling video game of 2018 in the US on combined physical and digital sales.

The other major holiday release was Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 by Activision Blizzard. As the company posts its results in the coming days, investors would know if Take-Two ate into Activision’s piece of the holiday pie. Optimistically, many are of the view that it was Black Ops that battered Battlefield V sales, given that the theme and style of these two games were more identical than Red Dead Redemption.

 

LOOKING BACK

Activision Blizzard saw earnings jump 38% in the previously reported third quarter on lower costs and expenses as well as an income tax benefit, despite a 6.5% decline in revenue. But the results did not come up to the Street expectations, pushing the stock down shortly after the announcement.

 

Activision Blizzard third quarter 2018 Earnings Infographic
Activision Blizzard Q3 2018 Earnings Infographic

In the third quarter, Activision’s net bookings slipped 12.6%.

Despite the setback, the gaming mammoth had then predicted fourth-quarter net bookings to hit $3.05 billion.

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