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Ticker Shock: Why Activision Isn't Playing Games


Thursday's top stories and stocks with potential to move.

Isn't it supposed to be spring out there? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems almost as cold and nasty outside as it was in January. It's hard to imagine that it'll be summer and we'll be swimming in just a few months.

Asian stocks were mixed. The Hang Seng closed down just over a half a percent, and the Nikkei closed up a fraction. Meanwhile, European stocks were in positive territory earlier this morning. And here in the US, we're currently trading higher.

Here's what I'm seeing this morning:

Las Vegas Sands (LVS):
With so many eyes glued to Intel (INTC), the Beige Book numbers and China's GDP numbers, I'm not sure too many people saw the news yesterday about the company's new director - but everyone should be paying attention.

The Vegas-based casino company -- whose stock has received a colossal pummeling over the past year -- elected a gentleman by the name of Jason Ader to its board.

The name may not ring a bell to many folks out there, but on the Street, he was a rock star back when he was at Bear Stearns covering gaming. I remember he used to put out voluminous research on companies of all stripes in the gaming sector, and he was just one of those guys that seemed to know it all (in a good way).

My point is, I don't think he'd be joining this board unless he was serious about the job. Furthermore, I think the company is lucky to have him aboard, and its chances may have just gone up a notch in my book.

Unrelated to Ader, I want to point out that the shares are now north of $5. My hunch is that if they stay above that level, analysts might start paying greater attention to the company.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI):
Looks like these guys aren't playing games.

The California-based game publisher was out with some news this morning.

It said in a release: "Due to the better-than-expected performance of its titles at retail, Activision Blizzard announced today that its March quarter net revenues and earnings per diluted share are tracking ahead of the company's prior outlook."

Note that back in the first half of February, it indicated that it was looking for $0.03 (excluding items).

But how much better will they come in?

I'm not sure, but I'm not expecting something totally earth-shattering. Also in the release, it reaffirmed its '09 calendar outlook. (Back in February it said it was looking for $0.61 on a non-GAAP basis.)

In my opinion, if this was truly going to be a blowout stellar quarter, I'd think it would have raised the full-year bar.

Overall, I think it's a decent company, but this doesn't motivate me to get off the sidelines. Note that the Street is looking for it to earn $0.63 a share this year and $0.73 a share next year. For a (roughly) $10 stock, that's not all that impressive.
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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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