Take-Two Results Beat Estimates on Sales of Grand Theft Auto

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Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. reported fiscal third-quarter results that beat analysts’ estimates, crediting holiday sales of its best-selling video game, Grand Theft Auto.

The company’s shares advanced as much as 7.2 percent to $32 in extended trading after the announcement. Take-Two had declined less than 1 percent to $29.84 at the close in New York.

Profit excluding some items totaled $1.87 a share in the quarter ended Dec. 31, New York-based Take-Two said Tuesday in a statement. Analysts had projected $1.52 a share. Adjusted sales of $954 million beat analysts’ estimates of $795 million.

Grand Theft Auto V, which set records when released for older consoles in September 2013, remains a top seller. Versions for the latest machines, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, came out in November. Grand Theft Auto Online beat company expectations in the third quarter, helping the company generate $217.2 million in digital sales.

“It continues to perform very well,” Chief Executive Officer Strauss Zelnick said in an interview. “Consumers stay very engaged with Grand Theft Auto Online, and it’s the single largest contributor to recurrent consumer spending.”

Take-Two had its most successful holiday season in the company’s history, Zelnick said. Holiday and third-quarter sales were boosted by the release of five titles, including its popular sports games NBA 2K15 and WWE2K15. The titles were released in October and November, respectively.

New Releases

The company expects the debut of Evolve on Feb. 10 and Grand Theft Auto V for PC on March 24 to help fourth-quarter sales. It also anticipates an increase in full-game digital downloads, which contributed to 15 percent of total revenue this past quarter.

“Consumers are migrating to digital distribution of entertainment products and we’re part of that,” Zelnick said during the company’s earnings conference call.

Take-Two forecast fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted profit of 15 cents to 25 cents a share, compared with the average analysts’ estimates of 26 cents. Sales are forecast for $410 million to $460 million, while analysts project $439 million.