GameStop Gets It Right

Allow me to sing the praises of the humble archive. Back when I was growing up in the Bronze Age, researching something that happened 12 months in the past involved a trip to the public library, and hours of quality time getting the hang of maneuvering around "microfiche." (For school kids: Microfiche was an arcane technology, chronologically linked with stone tablets.) Fast-forward to today, and the click of a mouse tells me electronic games retailer GameStop (NYSE: GME  ) has really played it forward over the past year.

Setting a new high score this morning, the results underscored a comment that fellow Fool Ryan Fuhrmann made this time last year. He mentioned "the new game software business to 'explode' as Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) PlayStation 3 (PS3) lands on the market." And Nintendo's Wii, as well.

"Explode." In any other retailer, that word would ring of bravado. But can you think of a word that better describes numbers like:

  • 59.3% sales growth in Q3?
  • Or a 46.3% increase in same-store sales?
  • How about operating earnings that more than doubled, per-share profits that more than tripled, and raised guidance for each of sales, same-store sales, and per-share profits?

Commenting on last year's Q3 results, which were already beginning to benefit from the advent of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Xbox 360, Ryan told investors, "Right now the industry is on the cusp of a cyclical upswing as new console introductions will lead to powerful growth in complementary software and accessory sales."

And how? That's exactly what we saw in this morning's earnings news, which described sales of Halo 3, Electronic Arts's (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) Madden NFL '08, Activision's (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) Guitar Hero 3, and Take-Two Interactive's (Nasdaq: TTWO  ) BioShock leading GameStop to new heights of retail glory.

Future, future-er, future-est
Will GameStop enjoy continued success? Investors upset over guidance that appears to have fallen short of Wall Street's wishes should consider this: Last quarter, GameStop grew its gaming software sales 49%, but its gaming hardware sales 87%. Call me crazy, but I suspect the rapid ramp in hardware sales portends even stronger growth in games to be played upon 'em. I do not believe the gamers bought all of their new hardware to serve as bookends.

(Note to school kids: "Bookends" were another obsolete technology, used to preserve the data integrity of a wood-pulp-based information medium known as "books." Class dismissed.)

What did we expect out of GameStop last quarter, and what did we get when it booted up? Find out in:


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