Stocks extended their fall gains on Tuesday as both the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) ended in positive territory. The S&P 500 rose 0.27% and the Dow closed the trading session up 0.50%. Both indexes are in the black for 2015 after having dropped by more than 10% this summer.
Energy shares led the market higher as oil prices rose. But video game publisher Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) and communications giant Sprint (NYSE:S) made two of the biggest individual stock moves after posting third-quarter results before the opening bell.
Activision Blizzard crowns a new king
Activision Blizzard ended up 4% after surging by as much as 9% and touching a new all-time high. The video game publisher's shares have soared 70% higher so far this year, making it the third-best performing stock in the S&P 500 (behind Netflix and Amazon.com).
Known for blockbuster video game franchises such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, Activision surprised investors by announcing that it was buying mobile gaming giant and Candy Crush maker, King Digital for $5.9 billion. The acquisition of this "highly complementary business further positions Activision Blizzard for growth," management said in a press release. The deal will boost next year's profit by 30%, executives estimated, and the combined company will boast 550 million monthly active users, compared to 150 million for competitor Electronic Arts.
Additionally, Activision posted surprisingly strong third-quarter results this morning while boosting its outlook for the critical holiday quarter. Q3 revenue was $1 billion, higher than management's $900 million forecast as the publisher attracted record player engagement across its deep portfolio. Digital sales also set a new record as a percentage of the business, which helped push profitability to a new high.
Activision has a busy quarter ahead, led by the Nov. 6 launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops III and the Nov. 10 release of Starcraft II. The promising outlook for those games convinced management to raise its 2015 sales forecast for the third time this year, despite the negative impact of worsening foreign-currency swings.
Sprint makes the case for a turnaround
Sprint stock fell 7% after the communications giant announced fiscal second-quarter numbers Tuesday morning. Management trumped the results as evidence of an "inflection point" in Sprint's turnaround from two years of a sinking postpaid customer base -- but investors weren't so sure.
Sure, Sprint enjoyed several operating wins this quarter. It posted its best-ever churn (cancellation) rate at 1.5%. It also added 553,000 postpaid customers, compared to a nearly 270,000 customer loss in the year ago period. And overall, Sprint booked 1.1 million net additions, for an 80% improvement over the prior year's growth. "As seen in our quarterly results, American consumers are happy to switch to Sprint because they appreciate great products and great service at a great price," said CEO Marcelo Claure.
Yet the business didn't see much financial benefit from those gains. Revenue fell by a surprisingly high 6%, to $8 billion. Average revenue per user slipped again, sinking to $54 per month from $61 last year. And earnings hardly improved as Sprint booked a net loss of $585 million, or $0.15 per share, compared to $765 million, or $0.19 per share a year ago.
Looking ahead, management said they believe that cost cuts and plans for a new handset leasing company will combine to keep Sprints cash needs met "for the foreseeable future." However, this year's earnings, even on an adjusted basis, won't be as high as they had originally hoped. Sprint's adjusted EBITDA result should be closer to $7.2 billion than the $7.4 billion that executives had previously forecast.
Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard, Amazon.com, and Netflix. 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.