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‘Grand Theft Auto’ publisher Take-Two’s profit sails past Street

Reuters/Anya George Tharakan and Sai Sachin R

Take-Two Interactive Software Ink’s (TTWO.O) quarterly profit handily beat market estimates, helped by strong digital sales of its video games and the continued success of the "Grand Theft Auto V" and "NBA 2K15" titles.

Shares of the company, which has beaten profit estimates for nine straight quarters now, rose more than 8 percent in extended trading on Monday.

Take-Two Interactive Software also said it was increasing its stock buyback plan to 10 million shares.

"Their digital business is rocking," Benchmark Co analyst Mike Hickey said. "You're seeing the industry move from physical sales to digital, and that trend will continue to benefit margins for the near medium term."

Digital sales made up 48 percent of Take-Two Interactive's sales in the fourth quarter ended March 31, up from 43 percent a year earlier.

Excluding items, revenue jumped 83.5 percent to $427.7 million. Adjusted net income increased to $54.3 million, or 49 cents per share, from $21.5 million, or 21 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 27 cents per share and revenue of $458.9 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Physical retail sales of "Grand Theft Auto V" ranked among NPD Group's top five games in February and March. "NBA 2K15" ranked among the research firm's top 10 in those months.

"Grand Theft Auto V" has sold nearly 52 million units across platforms since its launch in September 2013, Take Two Interactive said.

The game lets users complete missions for the overall story and engage in side activities such as driving, shooting and roaming.

"The majority of our revenue in the first quarter is expected to come from 'Grand Theft Auto V', 'Grand Theft Auto V for PC' and 'Grand Theft Auto Online'," Chief Executive Strauss Zelnick said in an interview.

Take-Two said it expects adjusted revenue of $325 million-$350 million and an adjusted profit of 25-35 cents per share for the first quarter.

The company also forecast adjusted revenue of $1.30 billion-$1.40 billion and adjusted profit of 75 cents-$1 per share for the full year.

Zelnick said the company had a better release schedule a year earlier.

Take-Two shares have risen more than 40 percent since the launch of "Grand Theft Auto V".