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Grand Theft Auto V revs up Take-Two's results

Game enthusiasts purchase the latest release of "Grand Theft Auto Five" after the game went on sale at the Game Stop store in Encinitas, Cal
Game enthusiasts purchase the latest release of "Grand Theft Auto Five" after the game went on sale at the Game Stop store in Encinitas, Cal

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Take-Two Interactive Software raised its fiscal 2014 results forecast on Tuesday after reporting that second-quarter revenue quadrupled, driven by record-breaking sales of the video game "Grand Theft Auto V."

Shares in Take Two jumped after it reported the results, which beat Wall Street forecasts. The stock has gained 5 percent since its signature title went on sale in September.

"Grand Theft Auto V," a free-wheeling game in which players roam an urban landscape modeled on Los Angeles, notched $1 billion in sales over its first three days, smashing records and becoming the industry's fastest-selling title.

Take-Two raised its forecast for earnings and revenue in the fiscal year ending March 31. It now expects revenue of $2.2 billion to $2.3 billion, with earnings-per-share of $3.50 to $3.75 per share for the fiscal year. The previous forecast was $1.76 billion to $1.9 billion in revenue, with earnings per share of $2.25 to $2.50.

Shares in Take-Two were up 1.6 percent at $18.25 after hours, from a close of $17.95 on the Nasdaq.

"The company is firing on all cylinders but the thousand-pound gorilla this year for this company is Grand Theft Auto V," CEO Strauss Zellnick said in an interview. "Our goal is to have the 'James Bonds' of the interactive gaming industry."

Take-Two, which also publishes "BioShock Infinite," said non-GAAP revenue was $1.27 billion in the quarter ended Sept 30, compared to $288 million a year ago. That beat the $954 million average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson-Reuters I/B/E/S.

On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted for the deferral of digital revenue and other items, income was $325.6 million, or $2.49 per share, compared with a net income of $10.2 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier. That beat the Street's view of $1.71 per share, according to Thomson-Reuters I/B/E/S.

Take Two's bigger rival, Electronic Arts Inc, reported higher quarterly profit due to cost controls and strong digital sales. Revenues fell from a year earlier.

Electronic Arts, known for its "Battlefield" and "FIFA" games, raised its fiscal year 2014 forecast for non-GAAP earnings per share, adjusted for the deferral of digital revenue and other items, from $1.20 to $1.25 per share.

"Continued gross margin improvement... and second, control of our costs," enabled the company to increase its earnings forecast, EA's CFO Blake Jorgensen said in an interview.

EA's shares were relatively unchanged in after-hours trading after closing at $24.13 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

For the second quarter, ended Sept 30, EA's non-GAAP revenue dipped to $1.04 billion from $1.08 billion a year ago. Non-GAAP net income rose to $105 million, or 33 cents per share, from $49 million, or 15 cents per share, a year ago.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by David Gregorio)

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