July 23, 2024
Take-Two stock soars as outlook suggests ‘Grand Theft Auto VI’ is a little more than a year away

Take-Two stock soars as outlook suggests ‘Grand Theft Auto VI’ is a little more than a year away

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. shares surged in the extended session Wednesday, after the videogame publisher’s weak outlook appeared to confirm a timeline for the next iteration of its blockbuster “Grand Theft Auto” videogame franchise.

Take-Two  TTWO, +12.56% shares rallied about 10% after hours, following a 0.8% gain to close the regular session at $125.02, for a 20% gain year to date. In comparison, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.33% is up 8%, and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +1.00% is up 19% this year.

Take-Two — which publishes such videogame franchises as “Grand Theft Auto” and “Red Dead Redemption” under its RockStar Games label, and “Borderlands” and “NBA2K” under its 2K label — offered a disappointing forecast for the fiscal year that just began, but pointed to the next fiscal year as the launch point for “several groundbreaking titles.” That is expected to include “Grand Theft Auto VI,” the sequel to the most successful videogame of all time that gamers and investors have been anxious to see.

For more: Wall Street wants to know when ‘GTA VI’ is going to drop, too.

“Our forecast reflects the challenging consumer backdrop, as well as an extension of the development timelines for several high-profile, long-awaited titles in our pipeline,” said Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chairman and chief executive, in a statement. One analyst had forecast that weak guidance would embolden bulls to focus on the likely blockbuster season ahead.

“We believe that we will enter our next phase of growth in fiscal 2025, as we plan to deliver several groundbreaking titles that we anticipate will set new standards of quality and success and enable us to deliver over $8 billion in net bookings and over $1 billion in adjusted unrestricted operating cash flow,” Zelnick said.

On the call with analysts, Zelnick said the investments the company has made, along with 12 titles expected out this year, and 36 others over the next two years, gave him the confidence to make an uncharacteristic, multi-year forecast.

Going out to fiscal 2026, Take-Two said it plans to release 17 “immersive core” games, or games the caliber of “GTA” or “RDR” or 2K’s sports titles; and six “new iterations of previously released titles.” Another 18 titles are slated for mobile launch, and four “mid-core” titles are expected out, like “LEGO 2K Drive,” which is launching Friday.

Recently, Jefferies analyst Andrew Uerkwitz, who has a buy rating on Take-Two and a $165 target price, remarked “the best time to own videogame stocks” is when publishers are about to exit their peak investment cycle, and start their release cycle.

Take-Two forecast a loss of $1.05 to 95 cents a share on revenue of $1.21 billion to $1.26 billion and net bookings of $1.15 billion to $1.2 billion. For the first quarter, analysts expect an unadjusted loss of 19 cents a share on revenue of $1.42 billion and net bookings of $1.29 billion.

For the year, Take-Two forecast a loss of $3.05 to $2.80 a share on revenue of $5.37 billion to $5.47 billion and net bookings of $5.45 billion to $5.55 billion. For fiscal 2024, the Street estimated an unadjusted loss of $1.45 a share on revenue of $6.1 billion and net bookings of $6.11 billion.

For the fiscal fourth quarter, Take-Two reported a loss of $610.3 million, or $3.62 a share, versus net income of $110.9 million, or 95 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Total net revenue rose to $1.45 billion from $930 million in the year-ago quarter, while net bookings came in at $1.4 billion.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet estimate expected an unadjusted loss of $1.22 a share on revenue of $1.35 billion and net bookings of $1.34 billion. Take-Two had forecast a loss of $1.27 to $1.17 a share on revenue of $1.34 billion to $1.39 billion, and net bookings of $1.31 billion to $1.36 billion.

Last quarter, Zelnick had told analysts on the conference call he took “personal responsibility” for having to cut the company’s outlook at the time.

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