Videogames: Stocks Fall Despite Surprisingly Strong October Sales; Merrill Downgrades Activision, EA

The news for videogame stocks is decidedly mixed this morning. The raw numbers look good: According to NPD Group, videogame software sales rose 35 percent in October, better than many had expected. Hardware sales rose five percent; peripherals fell eight percent.

But the stocks are coming under pressure, due at least in part to cautious comments on the prospects for the industry in the unfolding economic downturn by Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post. The Merrill analyst cut his ratings on both Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Activision Blizzard (ATVI) to Neutral from Buy. He maintains his Underperform rating on THQ (THQI).

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