Take-Two’s ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Sets $800 Million Record

Source: Rockstar Games

Character art from Grand Theft Auto V. Close

Character art from Grand Theft Auto V.

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Source: Rockstar Games

Character art from Grand Theft Auto V.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO) said first-day sales of “Grand Theft Auto V” topped $800 million worldwide, surpassing the record set by “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” last November.

The debut was the biggest ever for the company or for “Grand Theft Auto,” New York-based Take-Two said yesterday in a statement. It also beat the $500 million reported for the last “Call of Duty,” which publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI) said then was an opening-day record.

The fast start is outpacing projections for as much as $1 billion at retail in the first month. Revenue from the first two weeks of “Grand Theft Auto” alone may exceed estimates for all of Take-Two during the quarter that ends in September, according to Michael Olson, an analyst with Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis, who has a buy rating on the stock.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the launch,” Chief Executive Officer Strauss Zelnick said yesterday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in New York.

Take-Two rose as much as 7 percent to $18.45 in extended trading. The shares gained 1.2 percent to $17.20 yesterday in New York, bringing the advance this year to 56 percent.

“Our initial forecast of 14 million units by the end of the September quarter now appears very conservative,” Olson wrote in a research note. He said the game could sell as many as 25 million units by the end of March.

Sales Estimates

Customers purchased 10 million to 12 million copies in the first 24 hours, Olson said. His estimate of 14 million units sold in the first two weeks “now appears extremely conservative,” he said.

“Grand Theft Auto” is the linchpin in Take-Two’s forecast for fiscal 2014 sales growth of as much as 53 percent, to $1.88 billion, and profit of as much as $2.50 a share, projections the company made in July. The product is also testing demand for console-based titles as Sony Corp. (6758) and Microsoft Corp. prepared to introduce new video-game devices.

The results imply that after retailers take their cut, revenue Take-Two receives from “Grand Theft Auto” by month’s end will surpass the $794 million that analysts modeled for the company during the entire second quarter, Olson said. The company had one other major release during the period, “The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.”

Analysts project second-quarter sales of $803.3 million, the average of 18 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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