Analyst expects "flattish" March NPD numbers

Lazard Capital Markets' Colin Sebastian says declining last-gen sales, Wii and DS shortages combined to mute last month's retail take.


Not since October has the industry-tracking NPD Group's monthly sales tally failed to show a significant year-over-year growth in gaming, but Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian thinks the March figures will break that trend.

In a note to investors this morning, Sebastian said to expect NPD to release "flattish" March sales for console and portable games, with God of War II, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, Guitar Hero II, and Def Jam Icon leading the pack. Sebastian expects growth in sales for the latest generation of systems to be all but offset by declining sales on last-gen games, and short supplies of Nintendo's Wii and DS systems.

As for individual publishers, Sebastian expects Activision to have increased its sell-through by 20 percent, thanks largely to the sustained success of Guitar Hero II on the PlayStation 2 and Call of Duty 3. Sebastian predicts EA's numbers will be down 20 percent, with THQ dipping slightly for the month.

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