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Lazard: High Profile Releases Spur Growth In Slow Season

Ahead of the NPD's August North American sales report due September 13th, Lazard's Colin Sebastian has predicted a 10-15 percent rise in software sales with BioShock, Madden and Metroid Prime 3 highlighting a traditionally slow period in the
Ahead of the NPD's August North American sales report due September 13th, Lazard's Colin Sebastian has predicted a 10-15 percent rise in software sales with BioShock, Madden and Metroid Prime 3 highlighting a traditionally slow period in the games market. "We expect consistent hardware sales trends in August data," said Sebastian, "reflecting ongoing constrained supplies of Wii hardware as well as strong DS handheld sales. We also expect sequentially higher Xbox 360 unit sales following price cuts early in the month. Looking ahead to September data, we note that the pending release of Halo 3 (September 25) is likely to drive incremental Xbox 360 hardware unit sales." Looking at specific publishers, Sebastian has predicted 200 percent year over year growth for Activision with its "ongoing strong sales of Guitar Hero titles," and a 10 percent decline for EA, with "slower sales" of the PS2 version of Madden offsetting the extra week of sales this year. Finally, Sebastian expects THQ to be down 30 percent over last year on "a tough year-over-year comparison and a limited contribution from new title Stuntman, which was released towards the end of the month," though the analyst group still maintains buy ratings on all three publishers, as well as retailer GameStop with "the fundamental underpinnings for solid long-term growth" still intact.

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