Activision Blizzard shares dive in wild ride following early release of incorrect earnings

  • At 1:05 p.m. ET, Dow Jones ran a few incorrect headlines about Activision Blizzard's quarterly revenue, which were due after the close Thursday.
  • An Activision spokesperson said Dow Jones released the information early, and the news wire confirmed to CNBC it did "inadvertently" break an embargo on the figures, one of which was from a prior year.

Activision Blizzard shares suddenly fell 5 percent early Thursday afternoon before trading was halted.

The stock resumed trading around 3:30 p.m. ET and initially spiked more than 1 percent, but subsequently closed 2.3 percent lower.

At 1:05 p.m., Dow Jones ran a few incorrect headlines about the gaming company's earnings and revenue. Trading was halted for news at 2:14 p.m. when the company and traders realized that for some reason, what looked like the earnings due after the bell were possibly released ahead of their scheduled time.

Attendees play Activision Blizzard Inc.'s Overwatch computer game at the AOC Open e-Sports event in Tokyo.
Akio Kon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Attendees play Activision Blizzard Inc.'s Overwatch computer game at the AOC Open e-Sports event in Tokyo.

An Activision spokesperson said Dow Jones released the information early and that the revenue figure was from 2017, not 2018. The news wire confirmed to CNBC it did "inadvertently" break an embargo on the figures, one of which was from a prior year.

"We want to start the call talking about an extraordinary error by WSJ today, causing volatility," Amrita Ahuja, senior vice president of Activision's investor relations, said on the company's earnings call after the close Thursday.

They "reported a completely inaccurate headline," Ahuja said. "Not only did they report inaccurately, but in violation of our written agreement."

At 3:03 p.m., while trading was still halted, Activision Blizzard officially reported adjusted earnings of 38 cents a share, topping expectations of 35 cents. First quarter revenue of $1.38 billion also beat the $1.32 billion estimate.

However, second-quarter guidance disappointed. The company said it expects to report earnings per share of 31 cents, versus a 47 cent estimate, on revenue of $1.35 billion, below the expected $1.45 billion.

Activision Blizzard shares drop before being halted

Source: FactSet

"As we look ahead, our innovative core gaming pipeline, as well as initiatives like mobile, esports, and advertising, will continue to drive growth for our business," Activision CEO Bobby Kotick said in a release.

The company also announced it will pay shareholders a dividend of 34 cents a share.

The Dow Jones headlines said Activision posted earnings per share of 65 cents in the first quarter, and a net income figure of $500 million. The news wire later revised its initial headline on revenue higher to $1.965 billion.

Shares of competitors Take-Two Interactive and Electronic Arts spiked more than 5.5 and nearly 4 percent in afternoon trading, respectively, and closed slightly higher. The two companies are scheduled to report quarterly results in the next two weeks.

— CNBC's Julia Boorstin and Christine Wang contributed to this report.