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Activision Beats Quarterly Estimates, Announces Share Buyback

Activision Beats Quarterly Estimates, Announces Share Buyback Exclusive

November 6, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander

In its first quarter as a combined company, Activision Blizzard's revenues beat its own estimates, it said today, thanks to Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: On Tour, World of Warcraft, and the international release of LucasArts' Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, among others.

The company reported revenues of $711 million for the quarter ending September 30th -- but the $78 million Vivendi merger, sales costs and $26 million in compensation packages, among other expenses, cut into the company's profits, creating a $194 million loss.

Highlighting its successes, Activision says Guitar Hero: On Tour was the best-selling title overall in North America for the Nintendo DS for the quarter. For the first nine months of the calendar year, Guitar Hero remained the best-selling franchise in the U.S. on all console platforms, according to NPD.

And for the September quarter, the company had two of the top-five PC titles worldwide -- Blizzard's World of Warcraft: Battle Chest and Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, according to Charttrack, Gfk and NPD.

Impressively, consoles accounted for 42 percent of the combined group's total revenues, including 13 percent on the Wii and 11 percent on the Xbox 360, plus 9 percent on the PS3 and 9 percent on the PS2. But 42 percent of revenues were in MMO revenue from World Of Warcraft, with just 10 percent from Nintendo DS and 2 percent from PSP.

"Right now we are ahead of our plan to realize the benefit of the combined company," said president and CEO Bobby Kotick. "Our holiday lineup seems to be the strongest in the industry; we are reaffirming our financial outlook for the calendar year."

"While we recognize the risks of the current economy and the holiday season generally -- and there are many -- the company's financial position has never been better," said Kotick.

And in a move that Kotick says "reflects our confidence in the future of the company," Activision's Board okayed a stock buyback program, under which it can repurchase up to $1 billion of its common shares.

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