How does the company that owns stuff like BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, Grand Theft Auto and over a dozen other iconic game properties suddenly post a loss? Welcome to the world of too-big-to-profit companies!
Actually, I have no idea -- well, just what analysts at Sterne Agee are saying, which is that subsidiary publisher/developer Rockstar Games's delay of Max Payne 3 is going to cost Take-Two between $210 and $230 million and adjusted net income by 60 cents to 70 cents a share in its current fiscal year.
Max Payne 3 was originally due to ship in March, but Rockstar today announced the game would shift two months to May 15 in North America for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (May 18 internationally), and May 29 for Windows PCs (June 1 internationally).
"We do not take changes to our release schedule lightly, and this short delay will ensure that Max Payne 3 delivers the highest quality, groundbreaking entertainment experience that is expected from our Company," said Strauss Zelnick, Chairman and CEO of Take-Two. "Max Payne 3 promises to be one of our most exciting releases to date, and we are confident that consumers will once again be amazed by Rockstar's ability to take interactive entertainment to another level."
Sterne Agee analysts Arvind Bhatia and Brett Strauser say Take-Two lowered its fiscal year 2012 guidance by more than expected, and they believe that's "fully attributable" to the game's delay, "not other factors." Bhatia and Strauser previously forecast $125 million losses for Take-Two and an earnings per share impact of $0.40.
There's more: The delay of Max Payne 3 probably could further impact Take-Two's launch schedule. Sterne Agee's projection for fiscal year 2013 "now assumes that one of the titles currently scheduled for FY13 will shift to FY14." Any guesses?
The $210 to $230 million in revenue Sterne Agee's projecting assumes Max Payne 3's going to be any good, of course. Downsides: I thought the first two games were tremendously overrated. Upsides: Rockstar's Dan Houser wrote this one himself.