Activision Blizzard Announces Better-Than-Expected and Record First-Quarter 2017 Financial Results

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced better-than-expected and record first-quarter 2017 results.

First Quarter
Prior
(in millions, except EPS)2017Outlook*2016
GAAP Net Revenues$1,726$1,550$1,455
Impact of GAAP deferrals$(530)$(500)$(547)
GAAP EPS$0.56$0.25$0.48
Non-GAAP (redefined) EPS**$0.72$0.51$0.58
Impact of GAAP deferrals$(0.41)$(0.33)$(0.35)

 

* Prior outlook was provided by the company on February 9, 2017 in its earnings release.

** “Non-GAAP (redefined)” includes the net effect of revenue deferrals accounting treatment on certain of our online enabled products. Please refer to our July 29, 2016 call and materials for additional information.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were a Q1 record of $1.73 billion, as compared with $1.46 billion for the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 19%. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were a Q1 record of $1.39 billion, growing 50% year-over-year. GAAP operating margin was 29%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were an all-time quarterly record $0.56, as compared with $0.48 for the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 17%.

For the quarter ended March 31, 2017, on a non-GAAP (redefined) basis, Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 43% and earnings per diluted share were an all-time quarterly record $0.72, as compared with $0.58 for the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 24%.

For the quarter, operating cash flows were a Q1 record of $411 million, up 22% year-over-year.

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

Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard, said, “This quarter we delivered record revenues, earnings per share and cash flow, and over-performed guidance.”

Kotick added, “Among the drivers of our results was Overwatch®, which now has over 30 million players globally. The Overwatch League™ is gaining momentum and we’re excited to offer our community of players the best professional league experience. Destiny 2 and Call
of Duty®: WWII are also coming later this year, and both reveals have been very well received by fans.”

Selected Business Highlights:

Audience Reach

  • Activision Blizzard had 431 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)A in the quarter.
  • Blizzard had the biggest Q1 online player community in its history with MAUsA of 41 million, up 58% year-over-year. Overwatch continues to be Blizzard’s fastest growing new franchise, reaching over 30 million players globally less than a year after launch. Overwatch is now the 8th billion-dollar franchise in Activision Blizzard’s portfolio. Hearthstone® MAUsA grew year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter, despite no content releases in the first quarter, and recently surpassed the 70 million registered player milestone life-to-date.
  • Activision had 48 million MAUsA in the first quarter, down year-over-year primarily due to expected softness from last year’s Infinite Warfare™ release. Activision expects to release Call of Duty: WWII on November 3, 2017. Last week’s reveal was the most watched livestream in Call of Duty history, and the reveal trailer became the fastest video to reach 10 million views in Call of Duty history. Though early, initial pre-orders for Call of Duty: WWII are off to a very strong start. Activision and its partners at Bungie expect to release Destiny 2 on September 8, 2017 and welcome PC players into the Destiny universe for the first time. Response to the Destiny 2 reveal was very encouraging, and pre-orders are off to a very strong start.
  • King had 342 million MAUsA for the quarter, down year-over-year, but with better per user engagement and investment. King had two of the top 10 highest-grossing titles in the U.S. mobile app stores for the fourteenth quarter in a row.1

Deep Engagement

  • Blizzard had record first-quarter time spent, up a double-digit percentage year-over-year. In late January, Overwatch had its fourth seasonal event, Year of the Rooster, to celebrate the lunar new year. The event drove engagement records for the game. Blizzard launched a fifth seasonal event in April, Uprising, including a player-versus-environment game mode which drew record time spent. With a regular content and feature update cadence, World of Warcraft® time spent grew year-over-year in the first quarter. Hearthstone set a
    new all-time Daily Active Users (DAUs)B record last month with the release of a new expansion, Journey to Un’Goro™. In April, Blizzard also launched Heroes of the Storm®
    2.0, bringing players back into the game.
  • King’s time spent per DAUB is now a record 35 minutes a day, up quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year. King’s DAUB to MAUA ratio is at its highest point since 2013, and DAUsB were steady quarter-over-quarter.

Player Investment

  • Blizzard’s revenues from in-game content grew more than 25% year-over-year, driven by revenues from World of Warcraft in-game content and continued strength of Overwatch customization items.
  • Activision expects to release a new content offering for Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 fans, Zombies Chronicles, on May 16, 2017. The remastered collection of the franchise’s most beloved Zombies content will be available first on PlayStation 4.
  • King’s first-quarter gross bookingsC per paying user grew for the 7th quarter in a row to a new record. The Candy Crush™ franchise showed continued stability with mobile bookings up quarter-over-quarter. Also, King has entered into a promising publishing partnership with PlayStudios to enter the social casino genre.

Company Outlook:

(in millions, except EPS)GAAP
Outlook
Non-GAAP
Outlook
(redefined)
Impact of GAAP
deferralsD
CY 2017
Net Revenues$6,1006,100230
EPS$0.881.800.08
Fully Diluted Shares*767767
Q2 2017
Net Revenues$1,4251,425(225)
EPS$0.150.38(0.11)
Fully Diluted Shares*764764

* Fully diluted weighted average shares include participating
securities and dilutive options on a weighted average basis.

As referenced on our July 29, 2016 call, if you would like to calculate Non-GAAP metrics as previously defined, you would add the impact of GAAP deferrals to the Non-GAAP (redefined) metrics.

Currency Assumptions for 2017 Outlook:

  • $1.09 USD/Euro for current outlook (vs. average of $1.11 for 2016 and $1.11 for 2015); and
  • $1.28 USD/British Pound Sterling for current outlook (vs. average of $1.36 for 2016 and $1.53 for 2015).

Debt Repayment and Cash Dividend:

During the first quarter, we prepaid $500 million of our term loan. Also, the company declared a cash dividend of $0.30 per common share to be paid on May 10th to shareholders of record at the close of business on March 30, 2017.

 

About Activision Blizzard:

Activision Blizzard, Inc., a member of the S&P 500, is the world’s most successful standalone interactive entertainment company. We delight hundreds of millions of monthly active users around the world through franchises including Activision’s Call of Duty®, Destiny and Skylanders®, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft®, Overwatch®, Hearthstone®, Diablo®, StarCraft®, and Heroes of the Storm®, and King’s Candy Crush™, Pet Rescue™, 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, and its games are played in 196 countries. More information about Activision Blizzard and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activisionblizzard.com.

1 U.S. ranking for Apple App Store and Google Play Store combined, per App Annie Intelligence for first quarter 2017.

A 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 played 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 plays two of our games would be counted as two users. In addition, due to technical limitations, for Activision Publishing and King, an individual who plays the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would be counted as two users. For Blizzard, an individual who plays the same game on two platforms or devices in the relevant period would generally be counted as a single user.

B Daily Active Users (“DAU”) Definition: DAUs are defined and measured using the same methodology as we use for MAUs but on a daily basis.

C Gross bookings is an operating metric that represents the total cash spent by players in the period for the purchase of virtual items. King uses gross bookings to evaluate its results of operations, generate future operating plans and assess performance. Gross bookings is the total price paid by players, which includes indirect taxes (sales tax or value added tax etc.), platform providers fees, and King’s share of revenues.

D Net effect of accounting treatment from revenue deferrals on certain of our online enabled products. Some of our games’ online functionality represents an essential component of gameplay and, as a result, a more-than-inconsequential separate deliverable. As a result,
we recognize revenues attributed to these game titles over their estimated service periods, which is 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, and together with the related cost of revenues deferrals treatment and the related tax impacts for the purposes of EPS. 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.

Non-GAAP (as previously defined) and Non-GAAP (redefined) Financial Measures: In accordance with the updated Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations issued by the SEC staff on May 17, 2016, beginning with the reporting of our second-quarter 2016 results, we have reported our financial results and provided our outlook using GAAP and non-GAAP (redefined). We have historically provided Non-GAAP (as previously defined) financial measures. The only difference between the two measures is the inclusion (Non-GAAP (redefined)) or exclusion (Non-GAAP (as previously defined)) of the impact from revenue deferrals accounting treatment on certain of our online enabled products. Please see materials from July 29, 2016 call for further details.

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 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 stock-based compensation;
  • the amortization of intangibles from purchase price accounting;
  • fees and other expenses related to the King acquisition, inclusive of related debt financings, and refinancing of long-term debt, including penalties and the write off of unamortized discount and deferred financing costs;
  • restructuring charges;
  • other non-cash charges from reclassification of certain cumulative translation adjustments into earnings as required by GAAP; and
  • 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).

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. 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; (3) statements of future financial or operating performance; 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 risk, reflect management’s current expectations, estimates and projections
about our business, and are inherently uncertain and difficult to predict.

The company cautions that a number of important factors could cause Activision Blizzard’s 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: the diversion of management time and attention to issues relating to the operations of our acquired or newly started businesses; sales levels of Activision Blizzard’s titles, products and services; concentration of revenue among a small number of titles; Activision Blizzard’s ability to
predict consumer preferences, including interest in specific genres, and preferences among platforms; the amount of our debt and the limitations imposed by the covenants in the agreements governing our debt; the adoption rate and availability of new hardware (including peripherals) and related software; counterparty risks relating to customers, licensees, licensors and manufacturers; maintenance of relationships with key personnel, customers, financing providers, licensees, licensors, manufacturers, vendors, and third-party developers, including the ability to attract, retain and develop key personnel and developers that can create high-quality titles, products and services; risks relating to the expansion into new businesses, including the potential impact on our existing businesses; changing business models within the video game industry, including digital delivery of content and the increased prevalence of free-to-play games; product delays or defects; competition, including from other forms of entertainment; rapid changes in technology and industry standards; possible declines in software pricing; product returns and price protection; the identification of
suitable future acquisition opportunities and potential challenges associated with geographic expansion; the seasonal and cyclical nature of the interactive entertainment market; the outcome of current or future tax disputes; the impact of litigation risks and associated
costs; protection of proprietary rights; shifts in consumer spending trends; capital market risks; applicable regulations; domestic and international economic, financial and political conditions and policies; tax rates and foreign exchange rates; the impact of the current
macroeconomic environment; 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, 2016.

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.

ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS

(Unaudited)

(Amounts in millions, except per share data)

Three Months Ended March 31,
20172016
Net revenues
Product sales$509$645
Subscription, licensing, and other revenues 11,217810
Total net revenues1,7261,455
Costs and expenses
Cost of revenues—product sales:
Product costs143169
Software royalties, amortization, and intellectual property licenses88128
Cost of revenues—subscription, licensing, and other:
Game operations and distribution costs232142
Software royalties, amortization, and intellectual property licenses12252
Product development225175
Sales and marketing246168
General and administrative177160
Total costs and expenses1,233994
Operating income493461
Interest and other expense (income), net4052
Income before income tax expense453409
Income tax expense2746
Net income$426$363
Basic earnings per common share 2$0.57$0.49
Weighted average common shares outstanding749735
Diluted earnings per common share 2$0.56$0.48
Weighted average common shares outstanding assuming dilution761749
1Subscription, licensing, and other revenues represent revenues
from World of Warcraft subscriptions, licensing royalties from our
products and franchises, value-added services, downloadable
content, microtransactions, and other miscellaneous revenues.
2The 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 less than a
million and approximately 4 million for the three months ended March
31, 2017, and 2016, respectively. For the three months ended March
31, 2017, net income attributable to Activision Blizzard, Inc.
common shareholders used to calculate earnings per common share,
assuming dilution, was $426 million, as compared to total net income
of $426 million, for the same period. For the three months ended
March 31, 2016, net income attributable to Activision Blizzard, Inc.
common shareholders used to calculate earnings per common share,
assuming dilution, was $360 million, as compared to total net income
of $363 million, for the same period.
ACTIVISION BLIZZARD, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIES

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS

(Unaudited)

(Amounts in millions)

March 31,
2017
December 31,
2016
Assets
Current assets
Cash and cash equivalents$3,248$3,245
Accounts receivable, net344732
Inventories, net4849
Software development370412
Other current assets346392
Total current assets4,3564,830
Software development7454
Property and equipment, net245258
Deferred income taxes, net371283
Other assets439401
Intangible assets, net1,6731,858
Goodwill9,7639,768
Total assets$16,921$17,452
Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity
Current liabilities
Accounts payable$150$222
Deferred revenues1,1531,628
Accrued expenses and other liabilities936806
Total current liabilities2,2392,656
Long-term debt, net4,3934,887
Deferred income taxes, net4144
Other liabilities812746
Total liabilities7,4858,333
Shareholders’ equity
Common stock
Additional paid-in capital10,55510,442
Treasury stock(5,563)(5,563)
Retained earnings5,0694,869
Accumulated other comprehensive loss(625)(629)
Total shareholders’ equity9,4369,119
Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity$16,921$17,452

Contacts

Activision Blizzard, Inc.
Amrita Ahuja
SVP,
Investor Relations
(310) 255-2075
[email protected]
or
Mary
Osako
SVP, Global Communications
(424) 322-5166
[email protected]
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