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Take-Two 'implies GTA 5 on track for release by April 2013'

Analysts say financial guidance hints at release during the current fiscal year

Take-Two's financial guidance for the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2013 implies that Grand Theft Auto 5 is on track for release before next April.

That's according to Cowen & Company analyst Doug Creutz and Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. The former said in a research note this morning:

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"Full year FY13 guidance for net revenues of $1.75B-$1.85B and fully diluted EPS of $2.00-$2.25 were also essentially in line with our expectations. Most importantly, the EPS range was relatively unchanged from guidance for EPS "in excess of $2.00 per diluted share" which management first provided on its Q3:F12 call.

"We believe management could not provide this level of guidance with any degree of confidence if it did not anticipate shipping Grand Theft Auto V during FY13."

Creutz added: "Take-Two's announced line up of titles for FY13 was largely unchanged, including continuing to resist announcing a release date for Grand Theft Auto V... We are modelling a ship date for Grand Theft Auto V in the last two weeks of March 2013."

Pachter strongly agreed with Creutz. In a research note titled 'You Say So Much When You Say Nothing at All' he said:

"Guidance strongly implies the release of Grand Theft Auto V in FY:13. Although management did not provide a release date or window for GTA V, its FY:13 revenue guidance is unattainable without a huge seller from Rockstar.

"Management disclosed that the FY:13 revenue mix by label is estimated to be 60% Rockstar Games and 40% 2K Games. Rockstar is expected to contribute ≈ $1.1 billion, with ≈ $300 million from Max Payne (including DLC) and ≈ $150 million from catalog. The remaining ≈ $650 million is simply not possible without the release of GTA V well before FY end.

"Also, we believe that the game's developers are unlikely to risk delay very far into CY 2013 and face declining current-generation software sales in the face of the potential introduction of next-generation consoles that year or the next."

Back in February Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said "Grand Theft Auto V is making great progress."

We've heard next to nothing official about it since, although a list of vehicles that may be available in GTA 5 was recently uncovered in a file hidden away in Max Payne 3.

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