In his latest report on the Q4 results of a number of major publishers, Lazard's Colin Sebastian has said the analyst group expects "solid 15 percent growth" in sales this year, and added that Sony is unlikely to see a ramp in pre-holiday PS3 sales "without a more robust title lineup and/or a hardware price cut."
"Initial F4Q earnings reports in the video game sector were positive," said Sebastian, pointing to both Activision's recent 67 percent growth and UbiSoft's 42 percent. "Based on our retail channel checks," he added, "we believe video game sales remain generally healthy year-to-date despite tougher year-over-year comps for the remainder of 2007. We continue to expect solid 15%+ growth in software sales in North America this year."
Ahead of Electronic Arts' May 8th results, Sebastian said he expects results in line with Lazard's sales estimates of $580 million. "In addition," he adds, "we continue to believe EA could set a conservative initial tone for F2008 guidance given ongoing market uncertainties (e.g., PS3 sales), and an increasing mix of newly developed titles such as Spore, Skate, Army of Two, Rock Band
, and Simpsons
Looking at THQ, who are expected to release their results on May 10th, Sebastian says that "based on solid sales of new releases and catalog titles in the quarter, we believe there is potential upside to our revenue and EPS estimates of $149 million and $0.15."
"Following a very strong 2006," says Sebastian, "we expect another year of solid, but more modest, growth in 2007, including new titles Frontlines Fuel of War, Stuntman,
, as well as sequels to franchises WWE Smackdown, Juiced, Cars
, and Nickelodeon titles," adding that Lazard expects THQ to reaffirm fiscal 2008 sales of $1.12-$1.15 billion.
Finally, turning to Sony, Sebastian says the upcoming Sony Gamers Day "could shed more light on PS3 software lineup, online strategy," as well as its PS3 and PSP lineup for the second half of 2007, and further plans for the launch of Home.
However, he notes, "we continue to believe that a significant pre-holiday ramp in PS3 unit sales is unlikely without a more robust title lineup and/or a hardware price cut."