Activision Blizzard Announces Better-Than-Expected First Quarter 2013 Financial Results

Activision Blizzard Announces Better-Than-ExpectedFirst Quarter 2013 Financial Results

Company Increases CY 2013 Net Revenue and Earnings Per Share Outlook

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NAS: ATVI) today announced better-than-expected financial results for the first quarter of 2013.

First Quarter
(in millions, except EPS)   2013  Outlook*  2012


Net Revenues$1,324$1,160$1,172
EPS   $0.40  $0.29  $0.33


Net Revenues$804$690$587
EPS   $0.17  $0.10  $0.06

*Prior Outlook was provided by the company on February 7, 2013 in its earnings release

For the quarter ended March 31, 2013, Activision Blizzard's GAAP net revenues were $1.32 billion, as compared with $1.17 billion for the first quarter of 2012. On a non-GAAP basis, the company's net revenues were $804 million, as compared with $587 million for the first quarter of 2012. For the first quarter, GAAP net revenues from digital channels represented 28% of the company's total revenues. On a non-GAAP basis, net revenues from digital channels were 53%.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2013, Activision Blizzard's GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.40, as compared with $0.33 for the first quarter of 2012. On a non-GAAP basis, the company's earnings per diluted share were $0.17, as compared with $0.06 for the first quarter of 2012.

The company reports results on both a GAAP and a non-GAAP basis. Please refer to the tables at the back of this press release for a reconciliation of the company's GAAP and non-GAAP results.

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer, Activision Blizzard, said, "Our first-quarter performance was driven by continued consumer interest in all of our key franchises. Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™ was the #1 PC game for the quarter.¹ Additionally, during the quarter, Blizzard's World of Warcraft® remained the #1 subscription-based MMORPG in the world with more than eight million subscribers, although the game saw declines of approximately 1.3 million subscribers, mainly from the East, but in the West as well.²"

Kotick added, "While we have had a solid start to the year, we now believe that the risks and uncertainties in the back half of 2013 are more challenging than our earlier view, especially in the holiday quarter. The shift in release dates of competing products, the disappointing launch of the Wii U™, uncertainties regarding next-generation hardware, and subscriber declines in our World of Warcraft business all raise concerns, as do continued challenges in the global economy. For these reasons, we remain cautious. However, our focused and disciplined approach to our business has served us well in the past, and through continued investment and careful management of our costs, we expect to continue delivering shareholder value over the long term as we have for the last 20 years."

Selected Business Highlights:

  • As of March 31, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft remains the #1 subscription-based MMORPG, with 8.3 million subscribers.²
  • For the first quarter, Blizzard Entertainment had two top-10 PC titles in both North America and Europe with Blizzard Entertainment's StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo® III
  • As of March 31, 2013, in North America and Europe combined, Activision Publishing was the #1 publisher overall for the quarter, including accessory packs and figures, with the #1 and #2 best-selling franchises - Skylanders and Call of Duty®
  • In both North America and Europe, including accessory packs and figures, Activision Publishing's Skylanders Giants™ was the #1 best-selling game overall in dollars for the first quarter of 2013.³
  • For the quarter, in North America and Europe combined, Activision Publishing's Call of Duty: Black Ops II was the #2 best-selling title in dollars.¹
  • During the quarter, non-GAAP digital revenues from Activision Publishing's Call of Duty franchise increased more than 100% year over year.²
  • On May 1, 2013, Activision Publishing announced that it will release its new Call of Duty game, Call of Duty: Ghosts, on November 5, 2013.
  • On April 29, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment announced that it will release Diablo III for the Sony PlayStation® 3 computer entertainment system later this year. As announced previously, Blizzard also plans to adapt the game for the Sony PlayStation 4.
  • On March 22, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment announced Hearthstone™: Heroes of Warcraft™, a new cross-platform free-to-play game for Windows®, Macintosh®, and iPad®.
  • On March 12, 2013, Blizzard Entertainment launched StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. As of the end of its first two days of sales, Heart of the Swarmhad sold through approximately 1.1 million copies worldwide, including both retail and digital sales.²
  • On February 5, 2013, Activision Publishing announcedSkylanders SWAP Force™,the newest installment in the popular Skylanders franchise.

Company Outlook

On April 16, 2013, Activision Publishing released Call of Duty: Black Ops II Uprising, a downloadable content map pack for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The company expects to releaseUprising for other platforms later in the quarter.

Based on its first-quarter results,Activision Blizzard is slightly raising its outlook for calendar year 2013, as follows:

  Prior*  Prior*
(in millions, except EPS)OutlookOutlookOutlookOutlook

CY 2013

Net Revenues$4,220$4,085$4,250$4,175


Q2 2013

Net Revenues$980n/a$590n/a

* Prior Outlook was provided by the company on February 7, 2013 in its earnings release

Cash Dividend

As announced on February 7, 2013, Activision Blizzard will pay a cash dividend of $0.19 per common share on May 15, 2013 to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 20, 2013.

Conference Call

Today at 4:30 p.m. EDT, Activision Blizzard's management will host a conference call and Webcast to discuss the company's results for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 and management's outlook for the remainder of the calendar year. The company welcomes all members of the financial and media communities and other interested parties to visit the "Investor Relations" area of to listen to the conference call via live Webcast or to listen to the call live by dialing into 800-316-8317 in the U.S. with passcode 9157412.

About Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide online, PC, console, handheld and mobile device game publisher with leading positions across the major categories of the interactive entertainment software industry.

Activision Blizzard maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, South Korea and China. More information about Activision Blizzard and its products can be found on the company's website,

¹According to The NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track

²According to Activision Blizzard internal estimates

³According to The NPD Group, Gfk Chart-Track and Activision Blizzard internal estimates, including accessory packs and figures

Subscriber Definition: World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures: As a supplement to our financial measures presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP"), Activision Blizzard presents certain non-GAAP measures of financial performance. These non-GAAP financial measures are not intended to be considered in isolation from, as a substitute for, or as more important than, the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with GAAP. In addition, these non-GAAP measures have limitations in that they do not reflect all of the items associated with the company's results of operations as determined in accordance with GAAP.

Activision Blizzard provides net revenues, net income (loss), earnings (loss) per share and operating margin data and guidance both including (in accordance with GAAP) and excluding (non-GAAP) certain items. The non-GAAP financial measures exclude the following items, as applicable in any given reporting period:

  • the change in deferred net revenue and related cost of sales with respect to certain of the company's online-enabled games;
  • expenses related to stock-based compensation;
  • the amortization of intangibles from purchase price accounting; and
  • the income tax adjustments associated with any of the above items.

In the future, Activision Blizzard may also consider whether other significant non-recurring items should also be excluded in calculating the non-GAAP financial measures used by the company. Management believes that the presentation of these non-GAAP financial measures provides investors with additional useful information to measure Activision Blizzard's financial and operating performance. In particular, the measures facilitate comparison of operating performance between periods and help investors to better understand the operating results of Activision Blizzard by excluding certain items that may not be indicative of the company's core business, operating results or future outlook. Internally, management uses these non-GAAP financial measures in assessing the company's operating results, as well as in planning and forecasting.

Activision Blizzard's non-GAAP financial measures are not based on a comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles, and the terms non-GAAP net revenues, non-GAAP net income, non-GAAP earnings per share, and non-GAAP operating margin do not have a standardized meaning. Therefore, other companies may use the same or similarly named measures, but exclude different items, which may not provide investors a comparable view of Activision Blizzard's performance in relation to other companies.

Management compensates for the limitations resulting from the exclusion of these items by considering the impact of the items separately and by considering Activision Blizzard's GAAP, as well as non-GAAP, results and outlook, and by presenting the most comparable GAAP measures directly ahead of non-GAAP measures, and by providing a reconciliation that indicates and describes the adjustments made.

In addition to the reasons stated above, which are generally applicable to each of the items Activision Blizzard excludes from its non-GAAP financial measures, there are additional specific reasons why the company believes it is appropriate to exclude the change in deferred net revenue and related cost of sales with respect to certain of the company's online-enabled games.

Since Activision Blizzard has determined that some of our games' online functionality represents an essential component of gameplay and, as a result, a more-than-inconsequential separate deliverable, we recognize revenue attributed to these game titles over their estimated service periods, which may range from five months to a maximum of less than a year. The related cost of sales is deferred and recognized as the related revenues are recognized. Internally, management excludes the impact of this change in deferred net revenue and related cost of sales in its non-GAAP financial measures when evaluating the company's operating performance, when planning, forecasting and analyzing future periods, and when assessing the performance of its management team.

Management believes this is appropriate because doing so enables an analysis of performance based on the timing of actual transactions with our customers, which is consistent with the way the company is measured by investment analysts and industry data sources. In addition, excluding the change in deferred net revenue and the related cost of sales provides a much more timely indication of trends in our operating results.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Blizzard's expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements under the heading "Company Outlook," are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Activision Blizzard generally uses words such as "outlook," "will," "could," "should," "would," "might," "to be," "plans," "believes," "may," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," "estimate," "future," "plan," "positioned," "potential," "project," "remain," "scheduled," "set to," "subject to," "upcoming" and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements.

Factors that could cause Activision Blizzard's actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include, but are not limited to, sales levels of Activision Blizzard's titles, increasing concentration of titles, shifts in consumer spending trends, the impact of the current macroeconomic environment, Activision Blizzard's ability to predict consumer preferences, including interest in specific genres such as first-person action and massively multiplayer online games and preferences among competing hardware platforms, the seasonal and cyclical nature of the interactive game market, changing business models including digital delivery of content, competition, including from used games and other forms of entertainment, possible declines in software pricing, product returns and price protection, product delays, adoption rate and availability of new hardware (including peripherals) and related software, particularly during the expected console transition, rapid changes in technology and industry standards, the current regulatory environment, litigation risks and associated costs, protection of proprietary rights, maintenance of relationships with key personnel, customers, licensees, licensors, vendors, and third-party developers, including the ability to attract, retain and develop key personnel and developers that can create high quality "hit" titles, counterparty risks relating to customers, licensees, licensors and manufacturers, domestic and international economic, financial and political conditions and policies, foreign exchange rates and tax rates, and the identification of suitable future acquisition opportunities and potential challenges associated with geographic expansion, and the other factors identified in the risk factors section of Activision Blizzard's most recent annual report on Form 10-K, as amended. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and Activision Blizzard assumes no obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Although these forward-looking statements are believed to be true when made, they may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

(Amounts in millions, except per share data)


  Three Months Ended March 31,
  2013  2012
Net revenues:
Product sales$990$874
 Subscription, licensing and other revenues 1 334 298
 Total net revenues 1,324 1,172
Costs and expenses:
Cost of sales - product costs260257
Cost of sales - online subscriptions5769
Cost of sales - software royalties and amortization6131
Cost of sales - intellectual property licenses387
Product development125114
Sales and marketing10779
 General and administrative 89 102
 Total costs and expenses 737 659
Operating income587513
Investment and other income (expense), net 2 1
Income before income tax expense589514
Income tax expense 133 130
Net income$456$384
Basic earnings per common share$0.40$0.34
Weighted average common shares outstanding 1,113 1,120
Diluted earnings per common share 2$0.40$0.33
Weighted average common shares outstanding assuming dilution 1,120 1,127
1 Subscription, licensing and other revenues represents revenues from World of Warcraft subscriptions, Call of Duty Elite memberships, licensing royalties from our products and franchises, value-added services, downloadable content, and other miscellaneous revenues.
2 The company calculates earnings per share pursuant to the two-class method which requires the allocation of net income between common shareholders and participating security holders. We had, on a weighted-average basis, participating securities of approximately 26 million and 19 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013 and 2012, respectively. Net income attributable to Activision Blizzard Inc. common shareholders used to calculate earnings per common share assuming dilution was $446 million for the three months ended March 31, 2013 as compared to the total net income of $456 million for the same period. Net income attributable to Activision Blizzard Inc. common shareholders used to calculate earnings per common share assuming dilution was $377 million for the three months ended March 31, 2012 as compared to total net income of $384 million for the same period.
(Amounts in millions)
    March 31,  December 31,
    2013 2012
Current assets:
Cash and cash equivalents$4,299$3,959
Short-term investments319416
Accounts receivable, net237707
Inventories, net159209
Software development143164
Intellectual property licenses1111
Deferred income taxes, net409487
  Other current assets 226 321
  Total current assets 5,803 6,274
Long-term investments98
Software development160129
Intellectual property licenses1030
Property and equipment, net133141
Other assets1011
Intangible assets, net6468
Trademark and trade names433433
  Goodwill 7,103 7,106
  Total assets$13,725$14,200
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