THQ (NASDAQ:THQI) gave its shareholders a wonderful New Year's present yesterday. The software publisher increased expectations for its revenue and earnings numbers for the fiscal third quarter and the fiscal year.

For its upcoming third-quarter report, THQ expects to see $475 million in top-line revenues, and diluted earnings of approximately $0.91; this includes the effect of stock compensation, which the company has experienced some issues with recently -- a press release issued earlier in the week explains the results of an investigation, which won't have a significant material impact going forward. The old third-quarter guidance called for revenues to be only as high as $425 million, with diluted earnings coming in between $0.65 and $0.70. For the full fiscal year, THQ is looking at a cool $1 billion of sales revenue and an even $1 of diluted earnings per share. Previous guidance stated that revenues would be, at best, $975 million, translating to a diluted-earnings range between $0.77 and $0.87.

The fiscal fourth quarter, however, won't be receiving a boost. The revenue guidance issued at the beginning of November predicted a revenue range between $145 million and $170 million; revenue guidance is now focused on the low end of that range, at $146 million. Earnings per diluted share are expected to be about $0.09 as opposed to, at minimum, $0.13. What caused the weaker outlook? Blame it on a shift in the company's release schedule -- a game slated for Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3 system has been pushed back to the first quarter of fiscal 2008.

That's OK, though, because the main thing to focus on here is the upward earnings revision. THQ isn't lying when it says that its licensing strategy is working. Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Cars cartoon, made in conjunction with the Mouse's Pixar unit, was not forgotten over the holiday season, even though it was released at the beginning of last summer. The DVD gave the brand another bout of awareness on the part of young kids, and they responded by asking for the THQ game adaptation for Christmas. Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) Nickelodeon properties also were on many lists, most notably the title based on Avatar: The Last Airbender. And wrestling fans snapped up a lot of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 discs, which the company produces in a joint venture with JAKKS Pacific. Investors in THQ should feel satisfied with the portfolio choices made by the publisher, and they can look forward to the summertime, when Disney releases its next Pixar picture, Ratatouille. If that film translates into as successful a video game as Cars, then sales growth will have a decent driver come the latter half of the year.

THQ, along with Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), is the cream of the crop when it comes to video game publishers. People are still buying software for the PlayStation 2, Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox 360 is already installed in millions of homes, Nintendo's DS and Wii units are selling like hotcakes, and PlayStation 3 is now in the fight for worldwide domination of the living room entertainment center. THQ has a lot of platform growth to look forward to; utilization of its licensing strategy will drive shareholder value for the next few years. This stock, as of now, looks like a keeper.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Activision and Disney. As of this writing, he was ranked 3,579 out of 19,594 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. Microsoft is an Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.