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Wall Street says Activision Blizzard will be the Disney for the 21st century

  • Jefferies analyst Timothy O'Shea says Activision Blizzard "is building a Disney-type media business for the 21st Century."
  • The analyst cited how the company sold the first seven teams in its esports Overwatch league for approximately $20 million each.
  • He also expects Activision Blizzard will be able to create a "NFL-style" business from the game with "broadcast rights, ads and sponsorships."
A scene from "Overwatch" game.
Source: Overwatch
A scene from "Overwatch" game.

Wall Street analysts predict Activision Blizzard is the future of media and entertainment as it enters new businesses such as esports, consumer products and advertising.

"With its stable of core franchises and a multitude of future growth opportunities, ATVI is building a Disney-type media business for the 21st Century, but with (much) higher operating margin," Jefferies analyst Timothy O'Shea wrote in a note to clients Friday.

"We see large opportunities around eSports, ads, mobile games, full-game downloads, and consumer products. But for 2Q, the big beat was driven by in-game spending, the biggest opportunity of them all."

The video game maker's shares fell more than 3 percent midday Friday a day even after it reported better than expected second-quarter earnings results. Activision Blizzard has been one of the best-performing stocks in the market with the shares up 77.2 percent year to date through Thursday versus the S&P 500's 10.4 percent return.

O'Shea reaffirmed his buy rating and raised his price target for Activision Blizzard to $78 from $68, representing 22 percent upside from Thursday's close.

The analyst cited how the company sold the first seven teams in its esports Overwatch league for approximately $20 million each. He expects Activision Blizzard will be able to create a "NFL-style" business on the game with "broadcast rights, ads and sponsorships."

In addition, O'Shea noted the company has beaten its earnings per share guidance in 90 percent of the last 21 financial quarters.

In similar fashion, Baird is bullish on the game maker's future growth markets.

"We remain encouraged by the company's extensive portfolio of key franchises, and believe growth opportunities remain as new titles, growing esports offerings, and improving monetization trends continue to generate upside potential," Baird analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in note to clients Thursday.

Sebastian reiterated his outperform rating on the company and increased his price forecast to $68 from $60.

Also on Friday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgraded the stock to buy from neutral.