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2 Big Reasons to Buy Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI): Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), Zynga Inc (ZNGA)

Thanks largely to the positive fallout from its incredible fourth0quarter earnings report last month, shares of gaming specialist Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) are up more than 40% so far this year, finally ending a nearly three-year cycle of relatively flat trading during which the market refused to take note of the gaming stalwart’s industry prowess.

Does this mean, then, that prospective investors have missed the boat? Absolutely not.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI)To the contrary, investors should have every reason to believe Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) will continue its impressive rise. co-founder David Gardner regularly recognizes that winning businesses tend to keep on winning, and in 2012, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) posted its strongest-ever year, setting records for both GAAP net revenue of $4.86 billion and earnings per share of $1.01.

With that, here are two other big reasons you should consider making Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) part of your portfolio.

All that cash
First of all, Activision managed to generate massive operating cash flow of more than $1.3 billion in 2012. While Activision’s most recent results were certainly helped by unusually strong holiday sales of its games, the company has managed to generate a total of more than $4.8 billion of operating cash flow over the past four years.

In addition, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) remains intent on returning capital to patient shareholders, as evidenced by its spending $3.8 billion since 2009 on dividends and share repurchases. In fact, just last month the company increased its annual dividend for the third year in a row to its current level of $0.19 per share.

Even so, noting that the company began 2013 with $4.4 billion in cash on its books — more than a quarter of its entire market capitalization, mind you — Activision CFO Dennis Durkin still isn’t content with the company’s efforts to create shareholder value. During the most recent earnings conference call, Durkin said the company “may consider [additional] substantial stock repurchases dividends, acquisitions, licensing, or other non-ordinary course transactions and significant debt refinancing.”

Domination where it counts
Next, while the rest of the world seems obsessed with mobile’s so-called “freemium” games — of the Angry Birds variety with which Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) built its name — it’s easy to forget that companies such as Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) struggle mightily only to eke out meager profits.

Meanwhile, Activision doesn’t need to resort to playing online poker to stay afloat. Instead, it’s happy to continue focusing on the tiny details that make its massively popular full-featured games truly great, helping it to dominate the truly profitable core gaming markets.