Take-Two Interactive's (TTWO -1.98%) latest quarterly report may have left a bad taste in investors' mouths as its guidance wasn't as strong as Wall Street was looking for, but it would be a good idea to focus on the bigger picture, as the company is pulling the right strings to take advantage of hot trends such as the metaverse.
The video game publisher released its fiscal 2022 third-quarter results on Feb. 7, which were a mixed bag as the guidance couldn't pass muster. So, it wasn't surprising to see Take-Two's stock price drop 1.6% after the release. But this could be an opportunity for investors to buy a gaming stock that its CEO Strauss Zelnick told tech news site VentureBeat is "probably the biggest metaverse company" in terms of revenue at the moment thanks to multiple game franchises it operates with online engagement options.
Let's look at Take-Two's latest numbers and see why the company is a top metaverse stock you can buy right now.
Take-Two Interactive's quarterly results weren't all that bad
Take-Two reported $903 million in revenue during the quarter, an increase of 5% over the prior-year period. The company's net bookings -- an operational metric that includes the amount of money received from both digital and physical sales of services and products, and includes proceeds from merchandise, licensing fees, in-game purchases, and advertising, among others -- increased 6% year over year in Q3 to $866 million.
Net income fell to $144.5 million, or $1.24 per share, from the prior-year period's figure of $1.57 per share. Wall Street was looking for $1.12 per share in earnings from Take-Two on $868 million in revenue, and the company easily cleared those targets thanks to stronger-than-expected digital game sales. In all, the results were much better than expected as the company had originally guided for $0.90 per share in earnings on $865 million in revenue.
Take-Two was originally anticipating net bookings to land between $800 million and $850 million, while net bookings through the digital channel were expected to increase 5% year over year. But 12% year-over-year growth in digitally delivered net bookings helped the company power past estimates.
Take-Two anticipates net bookings between $808 million and $858 million this quarter, an increase of 3% to 4% over the prior-year period but way below Wall Street's expectation of$925 million. Investors were disappointed at this tepid forecast, but they shouldn't forget that the company has delayed the release of new games, including some important titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online.
Take-Two has delayed these titles to polish them further, but the good part is that the delayed schedule hasn't impacted its full-year forecast. The company has raised its fiscal 2022 bookings guidance to a range of $3.37 billion to $3.42 billion, up from the prior forecast of $3.3 billion to $3.4 billion.
More importantly, Take-Two's growth should pick up the pace in the next fiscal year as more of its games hit the market. The latest-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft will get GTA V and Grand Theft Auto Online next month along with WWE 2K22 and Tiny Tina's Wonderlands.
In all, Take-Two plans to launch 23 core titles, 20 mobile titles, and nine new iterations of its existing titles from fiscal 2022 to fiscal 2024. All of this indicates why analysts expect Take-Two's top line to increase nearly 15% in fiscal 2023 following a small decline in the current fiscal year. Additionally, the company's earnings are expected to spike 38% next fiscal year.
So, investors should look past the near-term weakness in Take-Two's financial performance, especially considering massive opportunities such as the metaverse that it can capitalize on.
Why this could be a big metaverse play
It isn't hard to see why Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick believes his company is already a metaverse play, and probably the biggest one in terms of revenue and earnings. After all, video gaming is going to be one of the biggest applications of the metaverse -- a concept that aims to blur the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds.
Cryptocurrency investment firm Grayscale estimates that virtual gaming worlds in the metaverse could become a $400 billion opportunity by 2025, and Take-Two already has expansive gaming worlds and a massive installed base of gamers to take advantage of that. The company has several open-world games such as the Grand Theft Auto franchise, the Mafia franchise, the Red Dead Redemption franchise, and Max Payne, among others, which allow players to assume the role of characters in those games.
The Grand Theft Auto series has sold more than 370 million units so far, while the Red Dead Redemption series boasts 65 million units in sales. The company recently announced the acquisition of mobile game specialist Zynga for $12.7 billion, which should further bolster Take-Two's future content pipeline.
So, as sales of virtual reality headsets increase and more gamers jump into the metaverse, Take-Two will already have a solid portfolio of games to tap into the massive metaverse-related video gaming opportunity.
As a result, Take-Two could keep growing at a solid pace in the long run. Given that the stock is now trading at 36 times trailing earnings and 27 times forward earnings, both of which are at a discount to its five-year average trailing and forward earnings multiples of 65 and 31, respectively, now looks like a good time to get into this video gaming stock given the lucrative long-term opportunity it is sitting on.