Kaboom! Activision Likely to Blow Away Third-Quarter Expectations.

Guess who also brought a jet to a gunfight?

That would be Activision Blizzard, which is expected to blow away expectations for the third quarter when its results come out later this afternoon.

That also happens to be Robert Downey Jr.’s line in Activision’s new commercial for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which will likely play a large role in contributing to the company’s bottom line.

Activision is forecasting to report a third-quarter profit of seven cents a share on revenue of $690 million. Analysts are even more bullish, projecting that the company will report a profit of eight cents a share on revenue of $708 million, representing a 13 percent increase compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says the company is also likely to raise full-year expectations — the second time this year. Pachter says the performance will be driven by strong subscriptions of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, and healthy sales of Call of Duty, which he calls “the King of first-person shooters.” Activision is also expected to talk about strong digital sales that it generates through downloadable content, while it has also largely missed the downturn in social games by not exposing itself to the Facebook platform.

Arvind Bhatia, an analyst at Sterne Agee, also expects the company to beat third-quarter expectations and to affirm its full-year guidance. In a note to investors, he wrote: “We believe Activision is a defensive stock play within the interactive entertainment industry as at least half of its profits (i.e., Blizzard) are PC-based and not dependent on the ongoing console transition. That said, Activision’s console presence is very strong with titles such as Call of Duty and Skylanders.”

Bhatia noted that GameStop has said that Call of Duty: Black Ops II is shaping up to be “the biggest Call of Duty game ever.” That’s impressive, given that its last release, Modern Warfare 3, surpassed $1 billion in sales faster than the blockbuster movie “Avatar.” The new game, which is currently being presold for $60, will hit store shelves in six days.

The only reason to hesitate in naming the winner of the first-person shooter battle is that, after a five-year hiatus, Microsoft is releasing Halo 4, the latest installment in the Xbox blockbuster. Over its life, the franchise has generated $3 billion in revenue, and Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to ensure a big launch. The game went on sale yesterday for $60.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik