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Ubisoft Sees Major 18 Percent Share Plunge

As Ubisoft's shares take their biggest intra-day plunge since at least 1996, one analyst feels the company's best path to profitability is to focus on releasing just a few AAA titles a year.
Ubisoft's shares saw an 18 percent drop following its recent financial results, as the company reported substantial losses on increased sales along with title delays. According to Bloomberg, that's the company's biggest intra-day drop since at least 1996. Ubisoft's now trading at 7.95 euros ($10.71), and received ratings downgrades to "hold" from "buy" from Deutsche Bank AG and to "reduce" from "buy" from Natixis SA. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter called the performance "well below expectations". On the delay of Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Driver: San Francisco to fiscal 2012, Pachter said the company's lineup for the rest of the year, which includes Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Just Dance 2 and Michael Jackson: The Experience alongside many Kinect titles is "quite strong" as it is. Part of the company's financial results announcement included its plan to restructure its studios, cutting some projects to allow their staff to place all their focus on bigger AAA projects. Pachter believes this strategy offers the company more profitability potential. "We continue to believe that Ubisoft has the potential to deliver much higher revenue and EPS going forward as it focuses on AAA-quality franchise games with a history of success," the analyst says. Ubisoft will concentrate on its major franchises, planning to release three or four games a year; such titles "have a much greater profit upside than non-AAA games," according to Pachter. "The game shift makes breakeven for [fiscal 2011] more risky, but increases the likelihood of substantial earnings growth in [fiscal 2012]," he suggests. "However, the company has slipped at least one high profile game each of the last two years, making the FY:12 lineup less certain."

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