Ubisoft upbeat following sales surge

GRAW2, TMNT help French publisher rake in more than $252 million in the first three months of '07, a 37.4 percent increase; annual sales top $870 million.

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Two-and-a-half years ago, Ubisoft was girding itself for a hostile corporate takeover bid. Today, the Paris-based publisher announced its war chest is now jam-packed with cash, courtesy of earnings for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007. During the previous 12 months, the company raked in a record 680 million euros, which, at today's unfavorable exchange rates, amounts to $870.4 million.

For the first calendar quarter of 2007--the fourth in Ubisoft's fiscal year--the French publisher's revenue rose 37.4 percent, topping 197 million euros ($252.2 million) and beating its own predictions. Its bottom line was boosted by several breakaway hits, including the Xbox 360 edition of Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, which sold more than 1 million copies. (PC, PSP, and PlayStation 3 versions are due out later this year.) TMNT sold upwards of 1.1 million units on eight platforms, thanks to its semisuccessful film inspiration--and no thanks to its middling reviews.

Unsurprisingly, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot was pleased by his company's impressive haul. "Our fourth quarter performance was an excellent way to round off 2006-07, a year in which we exceeded all of our targets," he said in a statement. "We have confirmed the strong position of our key franchises Splinter Cell [Double Agent], Ghost Recon, Rayman [Raving Rabbids], and Rainbow Six [Vegas]."

Proud père Guillemot wasn't the only one feeling upbeat about Ubisoft's cash flow. "We continue to believe that Ubisoft is a compelling investment," Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter wrote in a note this morning. "If our assumptions about market-share gains and contribution margin over the next three years are correct, we think that the company could substantially exceed expectations each of the next 12 quarters, driving its share price higher."

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