Call of Duty powers Activision to strong holiday quarter

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Activision Blizzard Inc's earnings beat Wall Street expectations after its "Call of Duty" game had blockbuster sales over the crucial holiday quarter, helping its shares climb 5 percent.

The world's largest videogames publisher also forecast a first-quarter profit above industry analyst targets, guiding to earnings, excluding items, of 10 cents a share, versus an average forecast of about 9.7 cents.

Shares of Activision were up to $12.62 in after-hours trading, from a close of $12.06 on the Nasdaq.

First-person shooter "Call of Duty:Black Ops 2" hit store shelves in November and was a holiday blockbuster that reached $1 billion in global sales within 15 days of its release.

Activision, known for hardcore shooter games, is also diversifying its revenue stream and stemming subscriber losses from titles like its child-friendly "Skylanders."

The game's holiday iteration, "Skylander's Giants", sold well and took the franchise's total sales, including game packs, toys and accessories, up to $500 million since its 2011 release, according to Activision.

Fourth-quarter non-GAAP revenue, adjusted for the deferral of digital revenue and other items, rose 8.3 percent to $2.6 billion from $2.4 billion a year ago, surpassing Wall Street's average revenue forecast for $2.44 billion.

And non-GAAP income was $891 million, or 78 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $725 million, or 62 cents a year earlier.

© Thomson Reuters 2013

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