The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Zynga and Netflix - Press Releases


For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL - May 14, 2012 - announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Activision ( ATVI ), Electronic Arts ( EA ), Microsoft ( MSFT ), Zynga ( ZNGA ) and Netflix Inc. ( NFLX ).

Get the most recent insight from Zacks Equity Research with the free Profit from the Pros newsletter:

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Another Dismal Showing by Video Games


A lack of major releases dragged video game retail sales in April down 32% year over year to $630.4 billion, according to market research firm NPD. Dollar sales declined significantly from $1.10 billion on a monthly basis.

Both hardware and software sales continued to decline in April, primarily owing to the ongoing transition from the physical to the digital platform. Hardware fell 32% year over year to $189.7 million, while software sales plunged 42% year over year to $292.1 million. Accessories sales were flat year over year at $148.6 million.

The steep year-over-year decline in software sales was primarily attributed to an early Easter and lesser number of title releases during the month. According to the NPD analyst, Easter fell much earlier this year compared to last year. Hence, the majority of Easter-related purchases were completed in March, which led to the unfavorable year-over-year comparison.

According to NPD, Activision's ( ATVI ) Prototype 2 topped the game sales chart, brushing aside March topper Electronic Arts' ( EA ) Mass Effect 3 , which fell to the #8 position. Lucas Arts Kinect Star Wars grabbed the #2 spot, while Activision's all-time popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 jumped up 5 places from the prior month to grab the #3 position.

According to NPD, strong performance of Kinect Star Wars also drove higher sales for Microsoft's ( MSFT ) Star Wars Kinect 360 bundle. During the month, Microsoft sold approximately 236,000 Xbox 360's as compared to 371,000 units in the prior month.

According to NPD new physical retail sales generated 65.0% of total sales. NPD noted that consumer spending on used games, rentals, subscriptions, mobile games, social network games, digital full game downloads and add-on content accounted for approximately $1.0 billion in the month of April.

Our Take

We believe that the ongoing transition from the physical to the digital platform will ultimately benefit the video game industry over the long term. As compared to the physical platform, digital games are more profitable since they require minimum packaging cost. This cost effectiveness has helped publishers to use the digital format to keep a popular franchise running profitably over a long period of time.

Traditional publishers such as Activision are banking on downloadable contents (DLCs) to expand the customer base of its popular games such as Prototype and Call of Duty . Launch of content packs has many a time provided much needed boost to sagging sales of the original game.

According to Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR), DLCs are expected to generate $1.0 billion in sales in 2012 based on its increasing popularity among Xbox 360 and Play Station 3 console owners.

According to market research firm Gartner, video game-related spending is expected to reach $112.0 billion by 2015, with 50.4% of spending on software ($56.5 billion). Over the next five years, the share of gaming hardware, as a percentage of total spending on gaming, will remain constant while spending on the fast-growing online gaming outpaces software spending.

Gartner estimates that consumer spending on global online gaming (subscriptions and microtransactions) will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 27% through 2015. Online gaming is expected to grow from 15.6% in 2010 to 25.2% by 2015, representing the highest growth among all other gaming platforms.

Online gaming is also expected to witness growth at the expense of retail sales, owing to the growing popularity of digital distribution and free-to-play browser games. Gartner believes that the subscription-based business model will gradually be replaced by the freemium model, where a game is provided for free to gamers but is monetized through advertising.

We believe that consumers are increasingly spending more on smartphones and portable devices (such as the iPad) as compared to traditional devices for playing online games. This trend keeps us optimistic on the video game industry over the long term.

We believe that publishing companies with a focus on the digital segment will stand out even amid sluggish market conditions. For instance, some companies like EA, Zynga ( ZNGA ) and Activision are well positioned to benefit from this trend going forward.

However, NPD's retail sales data partly reflects the gaming industry trends and hence it is gradually losing relevance. We believe that including digital gaming, the video gaming industry is poised for significant growth going forward. However, the highly fragmented video game retail market continues to witness increased competitive pressures, which is hurting overall profitability.

This compels us to remain Neutral on these stocks over the long term. Currently, EA, Activision and Zynga have Zacks #3 Ranks, which imply a Hold rating in the near term.



Netflix Expands in Latin America


In a bid to strengthen its presence in Latin America and more particularly in Brazil, Netflix Inc. ( NFLX ) has entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, Netflix subscribers in the region would be able to stream TV shows and films produced by Twentieth Century Fox starting this year in July.

Netflix had expanded in Latin American in September 2011 with its streaming services. After roping in production powerhouse Twentieth Century Fox, Netflix has now added an array of films and TV shows to its portfolio, which it will offer to its Latin American subscribers.

This agreement allows the streaming of TV shows including "24," "Prison Break," "The X-Files," "Arrested Development," "How I Met Your Mother," "Glee" and "Bones." Moreover, movies such as "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "Wall Street" and "Office Space" will also be available for streaming from June 2012.

In the recently concluded quarter, Netflix identified Latin America as a nascent market for the video-on-demand segment. The company admits that it is facing challenges due to the lower income, limited broadband availability and limited use of credit cards in the region. However, among these, the latter is the biggest concern for Netflix, as the payment mode for subscriptions is credit cards.

Amid these near-term negatives, Netflix can take solace from the fact that Internet users in Latin America are projected to more than double to 107.3 million in 2020 from 46.2 million in 2011, according to SNL Kagan, a media consultant.

Want more from Zacks Equity Research? Subscribe to the free Profit from the Pros newsletter: .

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today:

About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978 by Leon Zacks. As a PhD from MIT Len knew he could find patterns in stock market data that would lead to superior investment results. Amongst his many accomplishments was the formation of his proprietary stock picking system; the Zacks Rank, which continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros. In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros at .

Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Disclaimer: Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investors should always research companies and securities before making any investments. Nothing herein should be construed as an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

ACTIVISION BLZD (ATVI): Free Stock Analysis Report
ELECTR ARTS INC (EA): Free Stock Analysis Report

MICROSOFT CORP (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report
NETFLIX INC (NFLX): Free Stock Analysis Report
ZYNGA INC (ZNGA): Free Stock Analysis Report
To read this article on click here.
Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: ATVI , EA , MSFT , NFLX , ZNGA

More from

Related Videos



Most Active by Volume

    $15.75 unch
  • $27.18 ▲ 4.70%
  • $109.50 ▼ 1.16%
  • $13.46 ▲ 3.46%
  • $28.03 ▲ 0.94%
  • $106.05 ▲ 0.40%
  • $24.15 ▼ 5.96%
  • $114.93 ▲ 6.32%
As of 10/8/2015, 04:04 PM

Find a Credit Card

Select a credit card product by:
Select an offer:
Data Provided by