Black Ops shipped 20+ million, Cataclysm 6+ million - Analyst

Janco's Mike Hickey lays out estimates for Activision Blizzard earnings, predicts Diablo III, next Starcraft II, Modern Warfare 3 due in 2011.

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Activision Blizzard doesn't announce its October-December quarterly earnings until Wednesday, February 9. However, that hasn't stopped the professional prognosticators known as financial analysts from laying out their predictions for the company's holiday quarter. In his latest note to investors, Janco Partners' Mike Hickey predicted net revenues of $2.468 billion for the fourth calendar quarter of 2010, when not adhering to generally accepted accounting principles.

Analyst Mike Hickey thinks Black Ops shipped over 20 million units last year.
Analyst Mike Hickey thinks Black Ops shipped over 20 million units last year.

A big reason for the mammoth figure was Call of Duty: Black Ops, which Hickey believes shipped 20.6 million units during the quarter, generating $1.025 billion in sell-in to retailers. Activision confirmed the game had minted as much coin back in December of last year. By comparison, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn't sell through 20 million until June 2010, nearly eight months after its release.

Another factor was sales of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, which the analyst predicts shipped over 6 million copies for $189 million in sales to stores. Two weeks ago, developer-publisher Blizzard confirmed the game had sold through 4.7 million units in its first month on the market following its December 7 release.

For the full year, Hickey believes Activision Blizzard had $4.722 billion in revenue, down slightly from the $4.775 billion for the year prior. For the fiscal year 2011, he predicts revenue of $4.612 billion. He expects Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3--which is reportedly being codeveloped by Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer, and Raven Software--to be released during the year but sell less than Black Ops.

Hickey also predicts Diablo III to arrive this year, as well as the first Starcraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm. A reportedly leaked Blizzard schedule had the latter not arriving until early 2012.

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