Analyst sees zero growth in May

Wedbush Morgan calls console game sales for May flat, ahead of official NPD stats due later this week.

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Industry analyst Michael Pachter today prognosticated on what video game software will have netted the industry during the month of May.

The Wedbush Morgan senior analyst is predicting NPD Group figures of $320 million for the month, on par with what the industry tallied last May ($319 million).

Pachter's estimates reflect $135 million in sales from new platforms (Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, and DS), which represent year-over-year growth of $101 million and current-generation software sales of $185 million--which, according to Pachter, reflect a decline in sales of 35 percent, down $99 million compared to last year.

The company-by-company estimate of sales from software for May is as follows:
Activision - $19 million, up 43 percent compared to last year.
Atari - $3 million, down 45 percent compared to last year.
Electronic Arts - $50 million, up 34 percent compared to last year.
Majesco - $2 million, down 22 percent compared to last year.
Midway - $7 million, down 22 percent compared to last year.
Take-Two - $40 million, up 108 percent compared to last year.
THQ - $15 million, down 2 percent compared to last year.

Pachter expects May sales to be driven by Kingdom Hearts II, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and Major League Baseball 2K6. Super Mario Bros. on the DS, the multiplatformer X-Men: The Official Game (PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC, GC, GBA, DS), and Rockstar Presents: Table Tennis for the Xbox 360 are also figured to impact sales positively.

Looking ahead, Pachter predicts revenues for console game software for the full year to be slightly less than in 2005. "We think that declines in current-generation software sales will be greater than contribution from next-generation software sales, and expect overall 2006 US sales to be 4 percent lower than 2005 levels."

Pachter said that April sales "provided a respite from double-digit sales declines" but that he still expects software sales to decline over the next several months.

"We believe that the publishers are, indeed, very sound investment vehicles, but that the risks of the transition are showing up in lack of investor confidence."

What will make game stocks more attractive to investors? "Once Sony and Nintendo launch next-generation consoles," he said, "we expect sales of software for the three major consoles and two handhelds [to] more than offset sales declines of current-generation software."

Pachter then expects game sales to "rebound dramatically," with investors being "much more comfortable" owning shares of publishers.

NPD figures for May 2006 are due on Thursday, May 8, according to Pachter.

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