Ubisoft Delays Game Launch Until May, but Plays Up Strong Holiday Sales

Ubisoft, a major games publisher, has preannounced its third-quarter revenues, reporting record holiday sales.

But it also warned that Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier, one of the Paris-based company’s big franchise hits, would be delayed by three months, or until its fiscal first quarter of 2012-13.

The game is expected to launch in North America on May 22, and in Europe on May 24, for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.

Ubisoft said it was expecting third-quarter sales of 650 million euros ($828 million), up 8 percent over the same period a year earlier. That exceeds its previous guidance of 620 million euros ($790 million), which was at the high end of its range.

Two of the games that Ubisoft said performed well during the holidays were Just Dance and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. The latter faced steep competition from both Activision’s Call of Duty and Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 3. Ubisoft also said it continues to see growth from online sales, which would include social games.

“In continuation of the robust trends recorded for the first half of the fiscal year, Ubisoft reported record-high sales for the Christmas period, exceeding expectations,” said CEO Yves Guillemot, in a release.

Due to its strong third-quarter performance, Ubisoft said it was revising its full-year guidance to 1.08 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on the high end. Operating income before some expenses is estimated to be up to 65 million euros ($82 million), up from the previous estimate of up to 60 million euros ($76.5 million).

Final third-quarter results will be published on Feb. 15.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter maintained his neutral rating on the stock, and his 7 euro price target, based on the unclear release schedule and recurring delays.

Ubisoft, which trades on the Paris stock exchange, is currently trading at 5.23 euro.

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