The three ugliest letters in the gaming alphabet are TBA.
To Be Announced.
Once again, Take-Two Interactive (NAS: TTWO) is keeping investors and gamers alike in the dark when it comes to the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V.
We know it's coming. The envelope-pushing video game publisher issued a tantalizing trailer for the law-bashing driving and action game six months ago. Fans went frame by frame for any hints at possible release dates, but there was nothing definite. We still don't know if we're looking at fiscal 2013 (which may seem far away, but actually began last month) or fiscal 2014.
Grand Theft Auto V -- TBA.
The car isn't very reliable
To be fair, it's not as if we could rely on a date if we ever got one. Take-Two's history of bumping release dates makes any firm date a TBA until the game ships.
The latest incident took place just two weeks ago, when the publisher delayed the release of BioShock Infinite -- the third installment in the futuristic Ayn Rand-ish franchise -- by four months. Instead of October and positioned well for the holiday shopping season, BioShock Infinite won't hit gamers until late February.
However, a pop in Take-Two's stock is a no-brainer when the company finally at least issues its initial release date for the marquee game. Even if it's merely a serving suggestion that will be revised later, at least investors can begin to wrap their heads around a tangible release date so they can begin modeling their projections.
Live and earn
Another way for Take-Two to get its stock moving higher is by posting encouraging quarterly results, and that's sort of what the publisher did yesterday.
Take-Two posted a 19% decline in revenue to $148.1 million, but that was actually better than the 23% drop that analysts were expecting. The news isn't pretty on the bottom line. Take-Two's adjusted loss of $0.60 a share is worse than the $0.18 a share deficit it posted a year earlier and the $0.55 a share loss that Wall Street was targeting. However, investors seem to be cheering the top-line beat a little louder.
It was going to be a hard comparison. Take-Two was still basking in the post-holiday success of Red Dead Redemption last year. The fresh releases this time around were largely its basketball and baseball games as well The Darkness II.
Take-Two's outlook for the current quarter and all of fiscal 2013 is lighter than Wall Street expectations. Maybe it was a mistake for Take-Two to release Max Payne 3 last week on the same day that Activision Blizzard (NAS: ATVI) hit the market with Diablo III. Then again, maybe some of the early server outages for Diablo III kept players away. The discrepancy here may be simply a matter of some sleepy analysts who failed to move their projections lower after BioShock Infinite was bumped toward the end of the fiscal year.
Running low on quarters
Yes, the industry is in a funk. Electronic Arts (NAS: EA) posted disappointing quarterly results earlier this month. GameStop (NYS: GME) also tumbled after posting soft sales. The video game retailer also offered up weak near-term guidance.
The silver lining in the decimated industry is that the malaise actually makes Take-Two -- a company that is much smaller than EA and Activision Blizzard but with a couple of flagship properties -- a more compelling acquisition target. EA tried to buy Take-Two the last time it had a major Grand Theft Auto release. Is the second time the charm?
Larger players hungry for growth and not finding it organically can easily turn to Take-Two to make it happen. The prices are depressed enough, that's for sure.
When will this happen? You know the answer: TBA.
A special report singles out three winners in the iPhone, iPad, and Android revolution. It's something that Take-Two investors should be watching given the publisher's recent gains in downloadable content. The report is free, but it won't be around forever so check it out now.
At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of GameStop. The Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Take-Two Interactive Software and Activision Blizzard.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended writing covered calls on GameStop. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not 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.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.