'Grand Theft Auto' maker Take-Two raises full-year forecast

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2016 4:10 PM

By Anya George Tharakan

(Reuters) - Take-Two Interactive Software Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue and raised its full-year forecast, buoyed by the enduring popularity of "Grand Theft Auto V" and the launch of its latest wrestling game.

Shares of the video game publisher, which also owns the "Battleborn" franchise, rose nearly 9 percent in extended trading on Wednesday.

Take-Two raised its full-year adjusted revenue forecast to $1.48-$1.53 billion from $1.33-$1.43 billion and its adjusted profit forecast to $1.65-$1.75 per share from $1.00-$1.15.

The company posted third-quarter adjusted revenue of $486.8 million.

This was 49 percent lower than a year earlier - a quarter that included the re-release of "Grand Theft Auto V" for the latest gaming consoles, as well as the launch of "Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel" and "Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth."

But it was significantly above the average analyst estimate of $452.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Grand Theft Auto, which allows players to cruise a make-believe gameworld based on real-life locations, is Take-Two's most lucrative franchise.

The latest version, "Grand Theft Auto V", was the fifth-highest-selling physical videogame in the United States last year, according to research firm NPD.

Take-Two's sales were also boosted in the holiday quarter by the release of "WWE 2K16", the latest game in the professional wrestling franchise.

The company also benefited from its high-margin digital business, which made up about 44 percent of its total adjusted sales for the third quarter versus 39 percent in the preceding three months.

"The wind is at our back because of the trend towards digital distribution," Take-Two Chief Executive Strauss Zelnick said in an interview.

In the current quarter, Take-Two is expected to benefit from the launch of "XCOM 2", a tactical game that pits a military force against alien invaders, on Friday for PC, Mac and Linux users.

The company's shares closed at $32.83 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Robin Paxton)