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Take-Two surges 12% to record as Wall Street gushes over success of 'Grand Theft Auto' online

  • Nearly four years after its release, "Grand Theft Auto V" continues to pay dividends.
  • Take-Two reported fiscal first-quarter sales of $348 million versus the $281 million Wall Street consensus Wednesday.
  • "Grand Theft Auto Online" is the bundled virtual multiplayer online component of the "Grand Theft Auto V" game.

Take-Two's "Grand Theft Auto V"-driven financial results continue to stun Wall Street.

The video game maker's shares rose 12 percent Thursday to a new all-time high after it reported better than expect fiscal first quarter earnings and guidance Wednesday. It posted sales of $348 million versus the $281 million Wall Street consensus for the quarter.

"Take-Two absolutely crushed Q1:F18 guidance yesterday and raised FY18 guidance significantly," Cowen analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a note to clients Thursday. "Strong continued digital growth led by GTA Online (still setting revenue highs in its fourth year of operations) suggest baseline earnings power continues to climb."

Creutz reaffirmed his outperform rating and raised his price target for Take-Two to $83 from $79.

"Grand Theft Auto V" was first released in late 2013. The company said on the earnings conference call the game has sold over 80 million units since it launched.

"Grand Theft Auto Online" is the multiplayer component of the game, where players participate in an online virtual world. Take-Two makes money selling virtual currency, which are used by gamers to buy new vehicles, apartments and clothing in GTA Online.

It's not just "Grand Theft Auto" that is driving investor optimism. Analysts are also bullish over Take-Two's other upcoming franchises.

"Our positive stance on the shares of TTWO is based on a robust game pipeline led by Red Dead Redemption 2, arguably the most anticipated console title for next year, what we believe to be a sequel to the Borderlands' franchise, multiple projects in development at Rockstar, the NBA eLeague, and continued support of perennial sports franchises," Stifel analyst Drew Crum wrote Thursday.

Crum reiterated his buy rating and increased his price target to $96 from $87, representing 21 percent upside from Wednesday's close.

Take-Two has been one of the best-performing stocks in the market. Its shares rallied 61.1 percent year to date through Wednesday versus the S&P 500's 10.7 percent return.