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Video game data raises holiday expectations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares of U.S. video game stocks rose on Wednesday, helped by expectations the industry was ready to bounce back after months of declines in time for the important holiday selling season.

Positive sales data released by the retail tracker NPD late on Tuesday fueled a rise in video game stocks, analysts said.

Software sales rose 6 percent to $605 million in October, which was higher than the Street was expecting, said ThinkEquity analyst Atul Bagga.

“NPD numbers for a change were pretty positive and that’s probably what’s driving the stocks,” Bagga said.

THQ Inc THQI.O shares rose 4.1 percent, while Take Two Interactive Software Inc TTWO.O shares gained 4.6 percent. Activision Blizzard Inc ATVI.O shares were 1.2 percent higher and GameStop Corp GME.N shares were 0.7 percent higher.

“When you have a positive month, it gives people some hope that this video game season could be a good one,” said Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia.

November is shaping up to be a strong month as well, Bagga said, because of brisk Kinect sales as well as releases of games he expects to be popular, like Electronic Arts Inc's ERTS.O latest installment of the racing game "Need for Speed" and Sony Corp's 6758.T racing game "Gran Turismo.

“Call of Duty: Black Ops,” which shattered records with $360 million in first day global sales, will also remain a top performer, analysts said.

GameStop’s quarterly results, due out early Thursday, will provide a clearer picture on whether consumers will be spending again on video games.

On Tuesday, the chief executive of Best Buy Co Inc <BBY.N, the largest consumer electronics retailer, said he expects strong sales of the Kinect and Sony’s Move device but that consumers might wait until the last minute for purchases because of the sluggish economy.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Gary Hill

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