Activision Blizzard Announces Third-Quarter 2019 Financial Results

Better-Than-Expected Q3 Results

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced third-quarter 2019 results.

“Our third quarter results exceeded our prior outlook for both revenue and earnings per share,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “Recent launches have enabled significant growth in the size of our audiences for our Call of Duty® and World of Warcraft® franchises. As we introduce mobile and free-to-play games based on our franchises we believe we can increase audience size, engagement and monetization across our wholly owned franchises. With a strong content pipeline and momentum in mobile, esports and advertising, we are confident we will remain a leader in connecting and engaging the world through epic entertainment.”

Financial Metrics

 

Q3

(in millions, except EPS)

2019

Prior Outlook*

2018

GAAP Net Revenues

$1,282

$1,105

$1,512

Impact of GAAP deferralsA

($68)

($5)

$146

 

 

 

 

GAAP EPS

$0.26

$0.05

$0.34

Non-GAAP EPS

$0.38

$0.20

$0.42

Impact of GAAP deferralsA

($0.06)

$0.10

 

 

 

 

* Prior outlook was provided by the company on August 8, 2019 in its earnings release.

For the quarter ended September 30, 2019, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $1.28 billion, as compared with $1.51 billion for the third quarter of 2018. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.01 billion. GAAP operating margin was 19%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.26, as compared with $0.34 for the third quarter of 2018.

For the quarter ended September 30, 2019, on a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 27% and earnings per diluted share were $0.38, as compared with $0.42 for the third quarter of 2018.

For the quarter ended September 30, 2019, operating cash flow was $309 million. For the trailing twelve-month period, operating cash flow was $1.91 billion.

Please refer to the tables at the back of this press release for a reconciliation of the company’s GAAP and non-GAAP results.

Operating Metrics

For the quarter ended September 30, 2019, Activision Blizzard’s net bookingsB were $1.21 billion, compared with $1.66 billion for the third quarter of 2018. Net bookingsB from digital channels were $0.98 billion, as compared with $1.44 billion for the third quarter of 2018. In-game net bookingsC were $0.71 billion. Overall Activision Blizzard Monthly Active Users (MAUs)D were 316 million.

Selected Business Highlights

Activision Blizzard exceeded its third quarter outlook, driven by better-than-expected performance for Call of Duty in-game and World of Warcraft, as well as favorable cost timing. The company started the fourth quarter with successful launches for Call of Duty®: Mobile and Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare, and achieved important milestones for several other franchises. Activision Blizzard is intent on building on this momentum as the company invests in the fourth quarter to maximize the potential of its franchises in 2020 and beyond.

Activision

  • In the third quarter of 2019:

    • Activision had 36 million MAUsD.
    • Call of Duty®: Black Ops 4 reach and net bookings from in-game items grew sharply versus Call of Duty®: WWII in the third quarter of 2018.
  • The October 1, 2019, launch of Call of Duty: Mobile saw over 100 million downloads in its first month, reaching the top of the mobile app download charts in over 150 countries and regions, with a 4.9-star rating in the U.S. iOS store.1
  • On October 25, 2019, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launched and became the top-selling new premium game release of the year. In its first week, sell-through units grew a high-teen percentage versus Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, with strong console growth and PC units on Battle.net® reaching new highs.

Blizzard

  • In the third quarter of 2019:

    • Blizzard had 33 million MAUsD.
    • World of Warcraft® Classic drove the biggest quarterly increase to subscription plans2 in franchise history, in both the West and East.
    • The Overwatch League™ concluded with a sell-out crowd of over 11,000 fans watching the San Francisco Shock defeat the Vancouver Titans in the Grand Finals at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in September. Season Two average minute audience grew 18% year-over-year.3
  • At BlizzCon on November 1, 2019, Blizzard revealed some of the exciting content in its pipeline:

    • Hearthstone®’s Descent of Dragons™ expansion, set for release in the fourth quarter of 2019, and the new Battlegrounds auto-battler mode, which is already in early access and enters open beta on November 12, 2019,
    • World of Warcraft’s next expansion, Shadowlands, set to launch in 2020,
    • Overwatch® 2, the next major installment for the franchise, and
    • Diablo® IV, the highly-anticipated sequel to the genre-defining franchise.

King

  • In the third quarter of 2019:

    • King had 247 million MAUsD.
    • Candy Crush™ franchise mobile reach grew year-over-year, driven by the addition of Candy Crush Friends Saga™ which launched in October 2018.
    • Candy Crush was once again the top-grossing franchise in the U.S. mobile app stores.1
    • Advertising continued to grow profitably, with net bookings almost doubling year-over-year.

Company Outlook

(in millions, except EPS)

GAAP

Outlook

Non-GAAP

Outlook

Impact of GAAP

deferralsA

CY 2019

 

 

 

Net Revenues

$6,315

$6,315

$10

EPS

$1.56

$2.13

$0.04

Fully Diluted Shares

772

772

 

 

 

 

 

Q4 2019

 

 

 

Net Revenues

$1,812

$1,812

$834

EPS

$0.29

$0.43

$0.72

Fully Diluted Shares

774

774

 

Net bookingsB are expected to be $6.33 billion for 2019 and $2.65 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Currency Assumptions for 2019 Outlook:

  • $1.15 USD/Euro for current outlook (vs. average of $1.12 for 2018); and
  • $1.23 USD/British Pound Sterling for current outlook (vs. average of $1.30 for 2018).
  • Note: Our financial guidance includes the forecasted impact of our FX hedging program.

Conference Call

Today at 4:30 p.m. EST, Activision Blizzard’s management will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the company’s results for the quarter ended September 30, 2019 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 https://investor.activision.com to listen to the conference call via live Webcast or to listen to the call live by dialing into 866-548-4713 in the U.S. with passcode 8907639. A replay of the call will also be available after the call’s conclusion and archived for one year at https://investor.activision.com/events.cfm.

About Activision Blizzard

Activision Blizzard, Inc., a member of the Fortune 500 and S&P 500, is a leading standalone interactive entertainment company. We delight hundreds of millions of monthly active users around the world through franchises including Activision’s Call of Duty®, Spyro®, and Crash™, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Hearthstone®, Diablo®, StarCraft®, and Heroes of the Storm®, and King’s Candy Crush™, Bubble Witch™, and Farm Heroes™. The company is one of the Fortune “100 Best Companies To Work For®.” Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard has operations throughout the world. More information about Activision Blizzard and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activisionblizzard.com.

1 Per App Annie Intelligence for respective regions, app stores, and periods.

2 Monthly or longer-term subscriptions.

3 Per Nielsen.

A Net effect of accounting treatment from revenue deferrals on certain of our online-enabled products. Since certain of our games are hosted online or include significant online functionality that represents a separate performance obligation, we defer the transaction price allocable to the online functionality from the sale of these games and then recognize the attributable revenues over the relevant estimated service periods, which are generally less than a year. The related cost of revenues is deferred and recognized as an expense as the related revenues are recognized. Impact from changes in deferrals refers to the net effect from revenue deferrals accounting treatment for the purposes of revenues, along with, for the purposes of EPS, the related cost of revenues deferrals treatment and the related tax impacts. Internally, management excludes the impact of this change in deferred revenues and related cost of revenues 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. In addition, management believes excluding the change in deferred revenues and the related cost of revenues provides a much more timely indication of trends in our operating results.

B Net bookings is an operating metric that is defined as the net amount of products and services sold digitally or sold-in physically in the period, and includes license fees, merchandise, and publisher incentives, among others, and is equal to net revenues excluding the impact from deferrals.

C In-game net bookings primarily includes the net amount of downloadable content and microtransactions sold during the period, and is equal to in-game net revenues excluding the impact from deferrals.

D Monthly Active User (“MAU”) Definition: We monitor MAUs as a key measure of the overall size of our user base. MAUs are the number of individuals who accessed a particular game in a given month. We calculate average MAUs in a period by adding the total number of MAUs in each of the months in a given period and dividing that total by the number of months in the period. An individual who accesses two of our games would be counted as two users. In addition, due to technical limitations, for Activision and King, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would be counted as two users. For Blizzard, an individual who accesses the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would generally be counted as a single user.

Non-GAAP Financial Measures: As a supplement to our financial measures presented in accordance with U.S. 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 income (loss), earnings (loss) per share, and operating margin data and guidance both including (in accordance with GAAP) and excluding (non-GAAP) certain items. When relevant, the company also provides constant FX information to provide a framework for assessing how our underlying businesses performed excluding the effect of foreign currency rate fluctuations. In addition, Activision Blizzard provides EBITDA (defined as GAAP net income (loss) before interest (income) expense, income taxes, depreciation, and amortization) and adjusted EBITDA (defined as non-GAAP operating margin (see non-GAAP financial measure below) before depreciation). The non-GAAP financial measures exclude the following items, as applicable in any given reporting period and our outlook:

  • expenses related to share-based compensation;
  • the amortization of intangibles from purchase price accounting;
  • fees and other expenses related to the King acquisition, including related debt financings, and refinancing of long-term debt, including penalties and the write off of unamortized discount and deferred financing costs;
  • restructuring and related charges;
  • other non-cash charges from reclassification of certain cumulative translation adjustments into earnings as required by GAAP;
  • the income tax adjustments associated with any of the above items (tax impact on non-GAAP pre-tax income is calculated under the same accounting principles applied to the GAAP pre-tax income under ASC 740, which employs an annual effective tax rate method to the results); and
  • significant discrete tax-related items, including amounts related to changes in tax laws (including the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December 2017), amounts related to the potential or final resolution of tax positions, and other unusual or unique tax-related items and activities.

In the future, Activision Blizzard may also consider whether other 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. Additionally, we consider quantitative and qualitative factors in assessing whether to adjust for the impact of items that may be significant or that could affect an understanding of our ongoing financial and business performance or trends. Internally, management uses these non-GAAP financial measures, along with others, in assessing the company’s operating results, and measuring compliance with the requirements of the company’s debt financing agreements, 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 income, non-GAAP earnings per share, non-GAAP operating margin, and non-GAAP or adjusted EBITDA 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.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: The statements contained herein that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements about: (1) projections of revenues, expenses, income or loss, earnings or loss per share, cash flow or other financial items; (2) statements of our plans and objectives, including those related to releases of products and services and restructuring activities; (3) statements of future financial or operating performance, including the impact of tax items thereon; and (4) statements of assumptions underlying such statements. The company generally uses words such as “outlook,” “forecast,” “will,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “to be,” “plan,” “plans,” “believes,” “may,” “might,” “expects,” “intends,” “intends as,” “anticipates,” “estimate,” “future,” “positioned,” “potential,” “project,” “remain,” “scheduled,” “set to,” “subject to,” “upcoming,” and other similar expressions to help identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to business and economic risks, reflect management’s current expectations, estimates, and projections about our business, and are inherently uncertain and difficult to predict.

We caution that a number of important factors could cause our actual future results and other future circumstances to differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: our ability to consistently deliver popular, high-quality titles in a timely manner; our ability to satisfy the expectations of consumers with respect to our brands, games, services, and/or business practices; concentration of revenue among a small number of titles; the continued growth in the scope and complexity of our business, including the diversion of management time and attention to issues relating to the operations of our newly acquired or started businesses and the potential impact of our expansion into new businesses on our existing businesses; our ability to realize the expected financial and operational benefits of, and effectively manage, our recently announced restructuring plans; increasing importance of revenues derived from digital distribution channels; risks associated with the retail sales business model; substantial influence of third-party platform providers over our products and costs; success and availability of video game consoles manufactured by third parties; risks associated with the free-to-play business model, including dependence on a relatively small number of consumers for a significant portion of revenues and profits from any given game; risks and costs associated with legal proceedings; changes in tax rates or exposure to additional tax liabilities, as well as the outcome of current or future tax disputes; rapid changes in technology and industry standards; competition, including from other forms of entertainment; our ability to sell products at assumed pricing levels; our ability to attract, retain, and motivate skilled personnel; reliance on external developers for development of some of our software products; the amount of our debt and the limitations imposed by the covenants in the agreements governing our debt; counterparty risks relating to customers, licensees, licensors, and manufacturers; intellectual property claims; piracy and unauthorized copying of our products; risks and uncertainties of conducting business outside the U.S.; fluctuations in currency exchange rates; increasing regulation of our business, products, and distribution in key territories; compliance with continually evolving laws and regulations concerning data privacy; potential data breaches and other cybersecurity risks; and the other factors identified in “Risk Factors” included in Part I, Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018.

The forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information available to the company at this time and we assume 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 our future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties, and other factors, some of which are beyond our control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

(Tables to Follow)

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

(Unaudited)

(Amounts in millions, except per share data)

 

 

Three Months Ended September 30,

 

Nine Months Ended September 30,

 

2019

 

2018

 

2019

 

2018

Net revenues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product sales

$

260

 

 

$

263

 

 

$

1,276

 

 

$

1,447

 

Subscription, licensing, and other revenues 1

1,022

 

 

1,249

 

 

3,227

 

 

3,672

 

Total net revenues

1,282

 

 

1,512

 

 

4,503

 

 

5,119

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Costs and expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenues—product sales:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product costs

137

 

 

127

 

 

388

 

 

416

 

Software royalties, amortization, and intellectual property licenses

9

 

 

20

 

 

171

 

 

214

 

Cost of revenues—subscription, licensing, and other:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game operations and distribution costs

246

 

 

257

 

 

714

 

 

777

 

Software royalties, amortization, and intellectual property licenses

50

 

 

109

 

 

164

 

 

278

 

Product development

210

 

 

263

 

 

702

 

 

776

 

Sales and marketing

182

 

 

263

 

 

580

 

 

741

 

General and administrative

177

 

 

208

 

 

527

 

 

623

 

Restructuring and related costs

24

 

 

 

 

104

 

 

 

Total costs and expenses

1,035

 

 

1,247

 

 

3,350

 

 

3,825

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating income

247

 

 

265

 

 

1,153

 

 

1,294

 

Interest and other expense (income), net

(2

)

 

13

 

 

(33

)

 

67

 

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

40

 

 

 

 

40

 

Income before income tax expense (benefit)

249

 

 

212

 

 

1,186

 

 

1,187

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income tax expense (benefit)

45

 

 

(48

)

 

208

 

 

25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income

$

204

 

 

$

260

 

 

$

978

 

 

$

1,162

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic earnings per common share

$

0.27

 

 

$

0.34

 

 

$

1.28

 

 

$

1.53

 

Weighted average common shares outstanding

767

 

 

763

 

 

766

 

 

761

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted earnings per common share

$

0.26

 

 

$

0.34

 

 

$

1.27

 

 

$

1.51

 

Weighted average common shares outstanding assuming dilution

771

 

 

771

 

 

770

 

 

771

 

1

Subscription, licensing, and other revenues represent revenues from World of Warcraft subscriptions, licensing royalties from our products and franchises, downloadable content, microtransactions, and other miscellaneous revenues.

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(Unaudited)

(Amounts in millions)

 

 

September 30, 2019 1

 

December 31, 2018 2

Assets

 

 

 

Current assets

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

$

4,939

 

 

$

4,225

 

Accounts receivable, net

386

 

 

1,035

 

Inventories, net

102

 

 

43

 

Software development

240

 

 

264

 

Other current assets

345

 

 

539

 

Total current assets

6,012

 

 

6,106

 

Software development

109

 

 

65

 

Property and equipment, net

249

 

 

282

 

Deferred income taxes, net

357

 

 

458

 

Other assets

731

 

 

482

 

Intangible assets, net

583

 

 

735

 

Goodwill

9,764

 

 

9,762

 

Total assets

$

17,805

 

 

$

17,890

 

 

 

 

 

Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity

 

 

 

Current liabilities

 

 

 

Accounts payable

$

274

 

 

$

253

 

Deferred revenues

695

 

 

1,493

 

Accrued expenses and other liabilities

782

 

 

896

 

Total current liabilities

1,751

 

 

2,642

 

Long-term debt, net

2,674

 

 

2,671

 

Deferred income taxes, net

23

 

 

18

 

Other liabilities

1,122

 

 

1,167

 

Total liabilities

5,570

 

 

6,498

 

 

 

 

 

Shareholders’ equity

 

 

 

Common stock

 

 

 

Additional paid-in capital

11,116

 

 

10,963

 

Treasury stock

(5,563

)

 

(5,563

)

Retained earnings

7,289

 

 

6,593

 

Accumulated other comprehensive loss

(607

)

 

(601

)

Total shareholders’ equity

12,235

 

 

11,392

 

Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity

$

17,805

 

 

$

17,890

 

1

We adopted a new lease accounting standard in the first quarter of 2019. The new lease accounting standard increased our “Other assets,” “Accrued expenses and other liabilities,” and “Other liabilities” as of September 30, 2019. Refer to our Form 10-Q for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019 for additional information.

 

 

2

During the three months ended March 31, 2019, we identified an amount which should have been recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018 to reduce income tax expense by $35 million. We will revise our 2018 financial statements to correct this matter in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ending December 31, 2019. Our balance sheet as of December 31, 2018, as presented above has been revised to reflect the correction. Refer to our Form 10-Q for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2019, for additional information.

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

RECONCILIATION OF GAAP NET INCOME TO NON-GAAP MEASURES

(Amounts in millions, except per share data)

Three Months Ended September 30, 2019

Net Revenues

Cost of Revenues

– Product Sales:

Product Costs

Cost of Revenues

– Product Sales:

Software

Royalties and

Amortization

Cost of Revenues

– Subs/Lic/Other:

Game Operations

and Distribution

Costs

Cost of Revenues

– Subs/Lic/Other:

Software

Royalties and

Amortization

Product

Development

Sales and

Marketing

General and

Administrative

Restructuring

and related

costs

Total Costs and

Expenses

GAAP Measurement

$

1,282

 

$

137

 

$

9

 

$

246

 

$

50

 

$

210

 

$

182

 

$

177

 

$

24

 

$

1,035

 

Share-based compensation1

 

 

(1

)

 

 

(7

)

(2

)

(17

)

 

(27

)

Amortization of intangible assets2

 

 

 

 

(48

)

 

 

(2

)

 

(50

)

Restructuring and related costs3

 

(4

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(24

)

(28

)

Non-GAAP Measurement

$

1,282

 

$

133

 

$

8

 

$

246

 

$

2

 

$

203

 

$

180

 

$

158

 

$

 

$

930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net effect of deferred revenues and related cost of revenues4

$

(68

)

$

(7

)

$

(6

)

$

(1

)

$

(1

)

$

 

$

 

$

 

$

 

$

(15

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating

Income

Net Income

Basic Earnings

per Share

Diluted Earnings

per Share

 

 

 

 

 

 

GAAP Measurement

$

247

 

$

204

 

$

0.27

 

$

0.26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share-based compensation1

27

 

27

 

0.03

 

0.03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amortization of intangible assets2

50

 

50

 

0.06

 

0.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restructuring and related costs3

28

 

28

 

0.04

 

0.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Income tax impacts from items above5

 

(14

)

(0.02

)

(0.02

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-GAAP Measurement

$

352

 

$

295

 

$

0.38

 

$

0.38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net effect of deferred revenues and related cost of revenues4

$

(53

)

$

(48

)

$

(0.06

)

$

(0.06

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contacts

Activision Blizzard, Inc.

Investors and Analysts:

ir@activisionblizzard.com
or

Press:

pr@activisionblizzard.com

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