Sunday, January 15, 2006

A Lesson In Investment Analysis

I wanted to give you an intriguing look at how the mind of a stock market analyst works:
600,000 Xbox 360 game units sold in US: group

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) has sold 600,000 of its new Xbox 360 video game consoles in the United States since its November launch, an analyst for market researcher NPD Group said on Friday.

The Xbox 360 debuted to much fanfare on November 22 in North America. Since then it has been in short supply. Analysts, video game publishers and retailers have said shipments during the key holiday season fell short of expectations.[....]

Microsoft last week confirmed its target of selling between 4.5 million and 5.5 million Xbox 360 consoles during the current business year, which ends June 30, 2006. It said in its statement on Friday that it will provide information on its Xbox 360 business during its quarterly financial report later this month.
OK, so let's do a little basic math here: 600,000 sold in six weeks, so that's about 100,000 a week, right? They retail at $300 list, so that's $30 million in gross revenues, before the retailer takes his cut, let's make that $200 at wholesale, and $20 million clear revenue for Micro$oft.

One hundred thousand units a week. Six months. 5 million should be an easily attainable number, right? Right. Except that the first six weeks contained Christmas and Hannukah, and while stores ran out of consoles, some places like Circuit City and Best Buy still had them in stock and are even discounting them now.

So Micro$oft ran at about twice its projected pace for the first six weeks of introduction. Too, it hasn't shipped any new units in 2006 (according to the stores I've seen around New York City) in the first two weeks, and no one I spoke to said they had any notice that they'd receive any more units soon.

We're talking about easily losing a month's sales in the pipeline; a month, I might add, that has a three day weekend in it. A month that sees some colleges still out on break. A month that will have kids home with the flu. A month that traditionally sees people staying indoors, doing indoor things like watching TV, reading, and ohhhhhh, playing games???? And yet, anal-ysts (my term for analysts who will bend over and let a company buttfuck them for some inside gossip to pass along) had this reaction to this announcement:
Microsoft shares closed up 5 cents to $27.19 on the Nasdaq.
Go figure.

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