Activision Blizzard Confirms: The Ax Is Mightier Than the Light Saber

It looks like the ax truly is mightier than the light saber.

Gaming titan Activision Blizzard (NAS: ATVI) reported first-quarter results last night, registering a solid beat on both the top and bottom lines. Adjusted revenue came in at $587 million, ahead of the company's prior guidance of $525 million in addition to the Street consensus of $556 million. The earnings per share of $0.06 was a couple of cents higher than the $0.04 investors were expecting.

Second-quarter revenue is expected to be about $805 million, with earnings per share of a dime. Calendar 2012 should see sales of $4.5 billion with a profit of $0.95 per share. The company repurchased 22 million shares throughout the quarter for roughly $261 million.

The real story here is that Activision is turning the tide with its biggest cash cow, World of Warcraft, as subscribers were sequentially flat from last quarter at 10.2 million. WoW had been bleeding players, and investors had feared that Electronic Arts' (NAS: EA) rival massive-multiplayer online role-playing game, or MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic was the culprit.


Sources: Earnings press releases and conference calls.

Sources: Earnings press releases and conference calls.

It's not as good as a subscriber gain would be, but it sure beats further subscriber losses. Star Wars: The Old Republic on the other hand, is losing padawans fast, losing nearly a quarter of its subscribers last quarter after the game launched late last year.

Activision recently announced that it renewed its license with NetEase (NAS: NTES) to distribute WoW in China for another three years, which is important, considering most of Activision's WoW subscriber losses had been coming from the Far East.

Diablo III has hit a new pre-order record for the company, and Activision is summoning its demons to arrive next Tuesday. Demons tend to be a punctual bunch, so mark your calendar for May 15.

Sorry, EA, but it looks like the Dark Side's not as tempting as you'd hoped.

One of the companies that helps serve up all those gaming graphics that Activision relies on is also trying to tap into The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution by powering the next generation of smartphones and tablets from the inside. Grab a free copy of the report to read more.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuholds no position in any company mentioned. Check out hisholdings and a short bio. The Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Activision Blizzard and NetEase and creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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