In a new investor note, Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets has been commenting on THQ's holiday season prospects, suggesting that THQ's Stuntman
title is "a little slow off the blocks", according to an informal retailer survey, and suggesting "modest expectations" for THQ's September line-up.
Sebastian explained, in his note: "Based on our channel checks with a cross-section of video game retailers, we believe that first-week sales of THQ title Stuntman
are a little slower than originally anticipated. The majority of stores we contacted this week indicated limited sell-through and that significant reorders are unlikely in the near future."
However, the analyst added: "We note there is still time for sales to improve backed by a more aggressive marketing campaign, including a free movie ticket, cable ads targeting a “mass market” audience, and potentially other promotions. At this point, we still believe Stuntman can reach million-unit status by the end of F2008 (March)."
Continuing to look at THQ's other titles, Sebastian noted that other key titles in this quarter include Juiced 2
and the European laucnh of Ratatouille
, which ship toward the end of the quarter. He continued: "We have fairly modest expectations for the remainder of the company’s September lineup, which includes Bratz, MotoGP, Worms, Company of Heroes
, and Drawn to Life.
The analyst added: "There are also several potential positive catalysts for shares, including the seasonal ramp in industry sales into F3Q, as well as a fairly visible holiday SKU plan including WWE Smackdown
and mass-market licensed titles such as Cars, SpongeBob, Avatar
, and MX vs. ATV.
Sebastian's conclusion? "Looking further ahead, we believe the growth outlook improves for THQ next year with the next Pixar title Wall-E
, a sequel to the Red Faction
franchise, and possibly the new UFC franchise. Lastly, we note that arbitration over the WWE license could result in a lower royalty rate paid by THQ to partner Jakks Pacific... we believe the biggest risks include the rising cost of game development, declining current-generation software ASPs, and the WWE lawsuit."