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Activision Blizzard Crushes Expectations For Q1

By Motley Fool Staff - May 17, 2016 at 10:00AM

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Highlights from this quarter’s earnings report, and how the company has carved out such a commanding position atop the gaming industry.

In this segment from the Motley Fool Money radio show, Chris Hill, Matt Argersinger, and Ron Gross go over Activision Blizzard's (ATVI -0.26%) Q1 earnings,which topped even the most optimistic expectations. And that's just the financials; the company also impressed with how effectively it has grown its user base.

Our trio discusses a few ways the company has managed to dominate the gaming market, the monster size and the dedication of its audience, and how the stock's performance in the past few years illustrates the value of buying and holding companies with solid strategies that an investor can believe in.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on May 6, 2016. 

Chris Hill: First-quarter profits for Activision Blizzard were nearly double what Wall Street was expecting. The video game maker also raised guidance for the current quarter. Looking good, Matty.

Matt Argersinger: It is. I think it's time we start talking about Activision Blizzard in terms of its audience size, because it's pretty impressive. If you look at the monthly active users, which they've started disclosing for their brands, up 10% to 55 million at Activision, up 23% to 26 million at Blizzard, and of course, King Digital, up 3% sequentially there since they closed the acquisition of $463 million. So you're talking about a company that has over 500 million active users. That puts it just behind WeChat, YouTube, and Facebook in terms of audience size.

Ron Gross: Whoa, WeChat? I can't realize that. [laughs]

Argersinger: Very popular. CEO Bobby Kotick, I thought he made a good point in the call. He said: "Our audience spent 42 billion hours playing or watching our games in the past 12 months. That's slightly more than people watch Netflix." So they're talking a lot more about their audience at Activision, and I think it speaks to the popularity of interactive games, the continuing move to mobile on games, but also just the digital sales of games. If you go back even five years ago, the way most gamers would buy games is go to Wal-Mart or GameStop, you'd spend $50, one game, and several weeks later, you're done playing with it, and you move on to the next game.

Well, what's happened now is that the lives of these games, and the revenue potential for these games, because of updates are map packs or extra things you can buy, now the average revenue of a game might be $100 or $150, and it might last a year or two longer. So, a lot of great things happening in the video game space in general. Of course, Activision is the leader. And I didn't even talk about e-sports, which is a big --

Gross: Remember years ago when the stock just could not break out of its range? And we kept saying, "They're putting up good numbers! Recurring revenue! They're moving to digital, it's all going to work!" It speaks to holding on to companies that you believe in and you really like the model of. The stock will come around eventually.

Argersinger: Yeah, exactly, Ron. I think it's a perfect example of that coiled spring. Companies fundamentally get stronger and stronger, and eventually, the stock price just explodes higher.

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