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Take-Two's Zelnick Shares Cautiousness On 2009 Growth

Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick has added his own voice of caution to concerns over market growth, following similar comments from Microsoft’s Shane Kim. He described Black Friday sales as "better than expected" -- but remained concerned over future performanc
Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick has added his own voice of caution to concerns over market growth in 2009, following similar comments yesterday from Microsoft’s Shane Kim. In a short interview with Reuters, Zelnick described Black Friday sales in the U.S. as "probably better than expected," but insisted that this was no guarantee of strong sales for the rest of the year. "It's pretty hard these days - being slightly down is the new up," said Zelnick when discussing sales over the Thanksgiving weekend. "Everyone's at best cautiously optimistic," he added. "You're unlikely to be celebrating, but you'll be OK. In terms of how our titles are performing, I feel that it's within that range." Referring to EA’s aborted attempt to acquire Take-Two, and the Take-Two’s abandonment of all other merger and acquisition talks, Zelnick insisted that the company was strong enough to continue alone. "We are well financed and well structured [and] we own our intellectual property," he said, emphasizing that strong titles made the company secure enough to remain independent, where consolidation may affect weaker companies. "I feel really good about how we are positioned to be an independent company," he added. It's not the first word of caution from Zelnick. Recently, at the BMO Capital Markets conference in New York, he was especially blunt on his economic concerns alongside more optimistic talks from others like Microsoft's Mindy Mount. Anticipating poor Winter sales, Zelnick said that the company is looking to diversify its business model with a new emphasis on online gaming and digital distribution, subscription models and microtransactions.

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