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Activision Blizzard results top estimates amid otherwise rough quarter for game makers

Activision Blizzard (ATVI) reported its Q4 earnings today after the bell, clocking key beats in net bookings, earnings per share, and monthly active users.

Here are some key numbers from the report, as compared to analysts' expectations compiled by Bloomberg:

Q4 net bookings: $3.57 billion actual versus $3.08 billion expected

Q4 adjusted earnings per share (EPS): $1.87 actual versus $1.52 expected

Q4 monthly active users (MAUs): 389 million actual versus 388.4 million expected

Shares of the company were up less than 1% in after hours trade.

Expectations were high for Activision coming into this earnings cycle – the company's coming off a series of high-profile releases including "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II," "Overwatch 2," and "World of Warcraft: Dragonflight." It's these releases that help propel Activision to substantial beats, particularly in net bookings.

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"Modern Warfare II" in particular is a bright spot from 2022 that sent the company's numbers barreling forward. In the ten days that followed its release, "Modern Warfare II" generated $1 billion in sales despite a consumer spending slowdown. To that end, a free-to-play version of "Call of Duty" called "Warzone 2.0" gained traction quickly after its release, garnering 25 million players within its first week.

Still, ATVI isn't out of the woods yet

However, it's a tense time for Activision, as the Santa Monica–based company is being sold to Microsoft (MSFT) for a whopping $69 billion – but the deal hasn't yet gotten regulatory approval.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued to block the deal back in December, and it's a case that's very much still in process. Additionally, Activision recently was forced to pay $35 million after a Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation found that the company had violated whistleblower protections and facilitated workplace misconduct.

In the company's earnings release on Monday, Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said: "We ended 2022 with record quarterly net bookings as we delivered on our mission to bring epic joy to players. ... We look forward to a historic year, as we work toward merging with Microsoft."

Regulators have accused the company of running a problematic work environment over the last few months — and even years. In December, California's Civil Rights Department sued Activision, alleging a culture of persistent sexual harassment and pay discrimination at the company. The company settled a similar lawsuit for $18 million filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2021.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - AUGUST 2, 2019 - (FILE) The booth of Blizzard Entertainment at Chinajoy Expo in Shanghai, China, Aug. 2, 2019. On November 17, 2022, Activision Blizzard Entertainment announced that the current licensing agreement with NetEase will not be renewed upon its expiration on January 23, 2023, and that it will suspend most of its Blizzard game services in mainland China. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
The booth of Blizzard Entertainment at Chinajoy Expo in Shanghai, China, Aug. 2, 2019. (Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images) (Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Still, Activision's results this quarter look anomalously good in light of the tough quarter that this has been for video game companies.

Elsewhere on Monday, "Grand Theft Auto" maker Take Two Interactive (TTWO) reported a series of key misses, including a substantial net bookings miss of $1.38 billion versus an estimated $1.45 billion.

And earlier this month, Electronic Arts (EA) reported misses on sales and guidance.

Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks and on LinkedIn.

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