Vivendi Could Dump Activision Blizzard's Shares: Here's Why That's a Good Thing

Vivendi is about to enter a three-month period in which it could sell up to 50% of its remaining 83 million stake of Activision Blizzard.

Apr 9, 2014 at 9:30PM

On April 11, Vivendi will enter a three-month time period in which it can sell up to 50% of its remaining 83 million share equity position of Activision Blizzard. (NASDAQ:ATVI)

As part of the agreement between the companies on Oct. 11, 2013, Activision repurchased 429 million shares owned by Vivendi at $13.60, roughly 45% its current share price. Vivendi maintained a 12% ownership of Activision, of which it can sell up to 41.5 million shares during the upcoming three month window (which begins on the six month anniversary of the agreement).

Investors could reasonably assume that if Vivendi was a seller at $13.60, there is a good chance that it is a seller again at today's more attractive price. Vivendi's ownership interest dropped to 12% from more than 60% from its equity sale, so Activision is no longer a strategic interest for Vivendi.

Many investors maintain a bullish sentiment on shares of Activision, and for good reason. The company has been firing on all cylinders and delivered a healthy return since the start of 2013. Nevertheless, the significant supply of shares that could be potentially sold in the market could pressure the stock in the near term.

Investors need to understand the gravity of a large seller looking to get rid of 41.5 million shares. This alone represents nearly six days of supply based on average trading volume over the last three months.

Buy the dip
Vivendi selling part of its remaining stake in Activision is certainly not a bullish sign, as the European conglomerate could simply be raising additional cash as part of its recent announcement to pay investors a special dividend of more than 17 billion euros ($23 billion.) Vivendi is also transforming itself and has sold off other assets including Maroc Telecom and SFR.

Activision should be considered a top pick in the video game sector given its strong release slate for the coming year, which includes a new next-generation franchise in Destiny and a reinvigorated "Call of Duty" title.

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), on the other hand, may not fare as well in the coming year, according to some analysts. 

Analysts at Bank of America recently downgraded Electronic Arts to "Neutral" from "Buy" based on their beliefs that there are no upcoming catalysts, post Titanfall, that is. "We do not see any titles (including FIFA World Cup) that could lead to big earnings upside in FY15," analyst Justin Post wrote in early March.

Not all analysts are in the same boat.

On March 25, analysts at Wedbush maintained an "Outperform" rating on Electronic Arts following its decision to delay the release of its Xbox 360 stock-keeping unit (SKU) of Titanfall a second time.

"We believe the Titanfall delays reflect revenue management and an effort to maximize next-generation console sales, as opposed to any quality issues. We view the game as the first must-have for the Xbox One, and believe that it is in the best interests of Microsoft and Electronic Arts (near- and long-term) to maximize next-gen console sales, particularly with the industry's current-gen sales below expectations recently."

The analysts further added that Electronic Arts could grow revenues by $400 million per year and deliver $0.50 or more in EPS growth over the same time period.

Bottom line
While analysts often share opposing opinions, investors should always pick and choose pieces of information to arrive at their own conclusion.

The analysts at Bank of America believes that there are no immediate upcoming catalysts (post Titanfall), while the analysts at Wedbush believe that Electronic Arts has plenty of catalysts for the next two years.

Regardless of which side an investor chooses, Electronic Arts has plenty of catalysts that are at least two years down the road, which includes a new "Star Wars" title and three to five new intellectual properties (IPs) for the next-generation consoles.

Activision, on the other hand, has a large catalyst coming up if Vivendi decides to further sell off its stake. Activision should realize a full year's benefit of a reduced float of roughly 36% stemming from a Vivendi sale. Better yet, investors could pick up shares at discounted price with almost 6% of the company's shares outstanding potentially coming up for sale. Additionally, Activision could be a prime candidate to be included in the S&P 500 index.

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Jayson Derrick has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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