Ubisoft Gains on Christmas Console Sales as China Lifts Ban

Jan 08, 2014 5:41 am ET

(Updates with console sales, starting in first paragraph.)

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Ubisoft Entertainment rose to the highest in almost three months after China lifted a 13-year ban on video-game consoles and as sales of Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp.’s gaming machines helped drive the stock.

The “Assassin’s Creed” game producer’s shares gained as much as 7.3 percent in Paris, the biggest intraday jump since October, and traded 6 percent higher at 10.88 euros as of 10:54 a.m. in Paris.

China suspended its ban on gaming consoles yesterday while it drafts new rules, allowing the machines to be made in the new Shanghai free-trade zone, which opened in September. Consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo Co.’s Wii U and Sony’s PS were banned under a 2000 rule to protect young people from the perceived corrupting influence of video games.

“It offers further potential for publishers,” Richard- Maxime Beaudoux, an analyst at Natixis, said in an e-mail. “It’s an opportunity, a bonus, but I think the potential is limited because the video game market in Asia is monopolized by local companies and it’s a market that’s very focused on mobile gaming.”

Beaudoux said the sales figures of new consoles reported yesterday by Sony and earlier this week by Microsoft are also boosting Ubisoft shares today.

Sony and Microsoft debuted new consoles in November last year, prompting the first jump in sales of hardware in the industry in more than two years. Sony said it sold 4.2 million PlayStation 4 consoles, while Microsoft said that consumers purchased more than 3 million Xbox One units in 2013.

Sales Outlook

“These strong initial sales of next-generation consoles is positive news for the video game industry and Ubisoft,” Jean- Christophe Liaubet, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, wrote in a note.

Ubisoft, Electronic Arts Inc.’s smaller French competitor, forecasts that new consoles will give it an opportunity to boost market share. Chief Executive Officer Yves Guillemot said in an interview last year that there’s built-up appetite among customers for new games because of the delay between the last generation of consoles and the most recent.

--Editors: Mark Beech, David Risser