Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) are both getting ready to launch new game consoles. This could provide a quick jolt to sales at Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), and particularly at GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME).
A New Cycle
The video game business tends to move in cycles around the launch of new game systems. Each time a new system comes out, customers buy the upgraded systems and a set of new games. Since the main console companies tend to release their new systems at roughly the same time, it makes the industry highly cyclical.
Microsoft is getting set to launch the new Xbox One system while Sony is teeing up the PlayStation 4. Both will incorporate more game downloading features while at the same time trying to reach further into the living room. Microsoft has been touting the One as a media center while Sony has taken a more traditional course, aiming squarely at its core gamer market.
Gamers are likely to be tight fisted with their game budgets until the new consoles come out. Why waste money on outdated technology when bigger and better game experiences are on the horizon? That could lead to anemic video sales over the near term.
However, once the new consoles hit, which will probably be toward the end of the calendar year, game sales are likely to spike as a new upgrade cycle begins. That should be good news for Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), where sales have declined year-over-year in each of the last four quarters. Despite a solid lineup of games, the company could use a quick shot in the “sales arm.”
Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA)’s shares are still well off their highs in the $70 range, but have started to move higher recently. Look for sales to jump when the new consoles come out around the holiday season. There’s probably some nice upside here, but investors will likely have to buy in before the consoles hit.
A Booster Rocket
Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) hasn’t seen the same top-line shortfall as EA, posting higher sales every year for the last decade. That’s particularly impressive since the deep 2007 to 2009 recession had a chilling effect on the retail environment. Activision’s shares have charted a steadier path and recently appear to have broken out of the range they’ve traded in since the recession.
That could make Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) of interest to momentum accounts. However, those looking for growth should also take a look. The company’s top line has continued to expand despite aging game consoles and the new consoles should add a quick jolt to the top and bottom lines toward the end of the year with stronger sales likely to last into next year, too. Like Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA), it would be best to climb aboard before the new consoles hit.