Revenue shot up 162% to $539.8 mil from '07

Two days of “Grand Theft Auto” made a big difference for Take-Two.

Videogame publisher on Thursday reported earnings for the quarter ending April 30, during which revenue shot up 162% to $539.8 million from last year and it swing to a $98.2 million profit from a $51.2 million loss.

Increase was due almost entirely to “Grand Theft Auto IV,” which went on sale April 29. Through May 31, blockbuster game from Take-Two’s Rockstar subsid has sold 8.5 million units to consumers and 11 million into retailers. In its first week, “GTA IV” sold six million units worth about $500 million. Based on that figure, it appears that the game grossed over $700 million by the end of last month.

While impressive, the huge boost in Take-Two’s financials may also reinforce investors’ concerns that the publisher is too dependent on “Grand Theft Auto” and can’t reliably perform in quarters when a new game from that franchise isn’t released.

Company also said that a planned downloadable follow-up to “GTA IV” is being delayed from its fiscal fourth quarter, which ends October 31, to the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Take-Two’s stated reason was to better balance its portfolio, though Rockstar VP creative Dan Houser indicated in an April interview that the company hadn’t yet done much work on the episodic game, which will be available exclusively on Microsoft’s Xbox Live.

Executive Chairman Strauss Zelnick confirmed on a conferene call with analysts that the publisher is engaged in “formal discussions with a number of interested parties” about being acquired or another strategic partnership. Zelnick and his management team continue to oppose Electronic Arts’ hostile $2 billion offer , which has been extended to June 16 and may last even longer depending on whan a Federal Trade Commission probe ends.

Sources have indicated that EA is one of the companies now formally talking to Take-Two, along with at least one traditional media company.

Take Two also reported that last summer’s hit “Bioshock” has now sold 2.2 million units. Universal recently optioned the game to develop as a film with Gore Verbinski attached to direct. Take Two will release a version of the game for Playstation 3 this fall and a sequel in 2009.

Other solid performer for Take Two was its new casual title “Carnival Games,” which has sold 1.5 million units for the Wii. Two new versions of the game will come out this fall.

For the rest of this fiscal year, Take-Two’s lineup also includes “Midnight Club: Los Angeles” from Rockstar, a new version of the classic “Civilization,” and several new sports games.

Investors seemed to have already expected the boffo “GTA 4” revenues, as Take-Two stock was virtually flat in after-hours trading after closing up 1% at $27.65. That’s almost $2 higher than EA’s tender offer.

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