Analyst: Activision rocking harder than expected

Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter says Guitar Hero publisher's sales estimates are too conservative.

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Activision won't announce its results for its second fiscal quarter until November 5, but the publisher has said it expects to net $250 million in sales for the three months ended September 30.

That projection suggests a spike in revenues from the same period the year before of almost 33 percent. That's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter today told investors he expects the actual results to be significantly better in a note subtitled "Encore: Activision Rocks the Quarter, Again."

Relatively few new releases will count toward the publisher's second quarter of sales, with the biggest being Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. However, the company's numbers for the three-month stretch may have benefited from the late-first-quarter release of Transformers: The Game and still-strong sales of Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360. According to NPD figures, as of the end of August, US lifetime sales for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions of Guitar Hero II had surpassed 3.5 million copies, generating nearly $270.5 million at retail.

Noting that Activision's US sell-through was up 122 percent for the quarter, Pachter revised his own revenue projections for the company's Q2 from $260 million to an even $300 million. That new figure would represent a second-quarter revenue surge of 59 percent year-over-year, and Pachter suggests even that figure may be conservative. As a result, Pachter believes Activision's second-quarter results will cause the publisher to revise its full-year estimates upward.

"We think guidance is extremely conservative and recommend that investors opportunistically add to positions," Pachter wrote.

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