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Grand Theft Auto Maker Take-Two Beats the Street, Raises Forecasts

Think of all the Los Santos real estate you could buy with that $212 million in profit.

Take-Two / Grand Theft Auto V

Take-Two Interactive beat analysts’ expectations in the latest fiscal quarter, with profits flat as sales rose by more than $180 million compared to the same quarter last year.

The Grand Theft Auto V and NBA 2K15 maker reported a profit of $212 million, or $1.87 per share, on sales of $954 million in the holiday quarter. Wall Street was expecting earnings of $1.52 per share, on revenue of $798 million. Take-Two shares were trading up 6 percent after the bell.

With a PC version of GTA V and the multi-platform launch of a new series, Evolve, on the horizon, Take-Two raised its outlook for the current fiscal year, which ends in March, forecasting earnings per share of $1.65 to $1.75 and sales between $1.65 billion and $1.7 billion.

The multiplayer shooter game Evolve, which launches next week, was available recently as a free “open beta,” which Take-Two said paid off. Videos of people playing the beta generated 3.7 million “unpaid YouTube viewers” and 1.7 million unique viewers on Twitch, the company said on a call with investors.

Grand Theft Auto V, which was originally released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, got a remastered edition for the latest generation of consoles in November, and to date the company has sold “nearly 10 million” units of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions into stores.

President Karl Slatoff said on the call that the market for the last generation of consoles is “still robust,” however. Forty-five million total copies of GTA V have been sold into stores since September 2013.

Meanwhile, subsidiary 2K Games launched the latest versions of its NBA and WWE sports titles, as well as new titles in the Borderlands (shooter) and Civilization (strategy) franchises.

One interesting footnote: Unlike competitor EA, which recently said digital sales are starting to eclipse retail, Take-Two’s PC and console-first strategy has made its digital revenue growth more sluggish. Digital, including both full game downloads and microtransactions in games like GTA, represented 22 percent of total revenue in the latest quarter, versus 17 percent in the same quarter one year before.

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