Take-Two Interactive (TTWO 2.32%) is moving through what is expected to be a record year for the company. Even after a 600% rise over the last five years, investors continue to buy the shares based on expectations that new games and esports will continue to drive long-term growth for the game maker.
Here are the key areas to watch when the company reports its second-quarter results.
1. The big one
First up, management is likely to start things off by giving updates on sales trends and engagement with Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V), since it's the biggest franchise for the company and has sold nearly 100 million copies through the first quarter. CEO Strauss Zelnick called it the "standard bearer for the current console generation."
GTA V has been instrumental to Take-Two's growth since its 2013 release. It's remarkable that this five-year-old game remains one of the top 10 best-selling titles in the industry. The game received new momentum following the Premium Online Edition that released in April. Definitely keep an eye on this monster franchise when Take-Two reports second-quarter results.
2. The potential game of the year
Rockstar Games -- the Take-Two studio that created Grand Theft Auto -- is launching its first title on current-generation game systems with Red Dead Redemption 2, which released last week. The game is expected to deliver record financial results for Take-Two in fiscal 2019 ending in March. Early sales and engagement indicators will likely be key topics of discussion during the upcoming conference call.
3. NBA 2K is looking strong
Meanwhile, NBA 2K18 has been Take-Two's highest selling sports title in history with 10 million copies sold, representing a growth rate of 17% over the previous version in the series.
NBA 2K19 launched in September, and it was the fifth-best-selling console title based on digital sales. A report from SuperData said digital unit sales increased year over year for the franchise. With NBA 2K18 still hitting strong sales numbers through the first quarter, Take-Two should report another strong quarter for the franchise with the new version hitting store shelves.
4. The key operating metric
Take-Two's recurrent consumer spending (what management calls in-game spending) was 63% of adjusted revenue last quarter, up from 59% in the year-ago quarter. That percentage can be somewhat lumpy quarter to quarter depending on the launch of new games and other factors. But as management continues to design games to be monetized with additional content offerings that gamers purchase while playing, investors should keep an eye on this important metric. Management anticipates high-single-digit growth in recurrent consumer spending for the second quarter.
5. Additional clues about the impact of esports
Last up, Take-Two just completed the inaugural season of NBA 2K League -- a professional esports league based on the franchise. During the first-quarter conference call, management said they were "very pleased" with how things went in the first year, including "growing viewership." They also said fan engagement was strong on Twitch, the popular game-streaming site. Investors should watch for any news about postseason developments, such as plans to add sponsors and other monetization strategies management may pursue.
Guidance and expectations
On a non-GAAP basis, Wall Street analysts expect Take-Two's revenue and earnings to be down 4.7% and 14.7%, respectively, over the year-ago quarter. Analysts expect adjusted revenue at the high end of management's guidance in the range of $500 million to $550 million.
The lower expected revenue is due to more games and content having been released in last year's second quarter as compared to this year, which will make for a difficult year-over-year comparison. Additionally, Take-Two guided for higher marketing expense, which will pressure the bottom line as the company prepares for the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 in the current third quarter.
Looking further out, management anticipates revenue to be at least $2.5 billion for the full year, with free cash flow expected to be approximately $725 million. Analysts expect Take-Two's adjusted earnings per share to grow 37% in fiscal 2019, based primarily on robust sales of Red Dead Redemption 2.
Investors will get an early look at how full-year expectations are shaping up when Take-Two reports earnings on Wednesday, Nov. 7, after market close.