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Games Sales Lift Activision

Updated from 5:37 p.m. EDT

Activision (ATVI) raised its full-year outlook after posting soaring first-quarter profits on the backs of three best-selling games.

Guitar Hero II, Shrek The Third and Spider-Man 3 sales helped the video game maker generate net income of $27.8 million, or 9 cents a share, in its fiscal first quarter, compared with a net loss of $18.3 million, or 7 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding equity-based compensation charges, Activision reported net income of $32.8 million, or 11 cents a share, for the quarter. This compares with a net loss of $14.7 million, or 5 cents a share, in the first quarter of last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 7 cents a share.

Revenue for the first quarter rose 163% to $495.5 million compared with $188.1 million the year before. Analysts were expecting revenue of $446.7 million.

Shares of Activision were up 20 cents, or 1.1%, to $18.50 in recent after-hours trading.

Activision had emerged as the No. 1 independent game publisher in June, ahead of Electronic Arts (ERTS) -- the largest game maker, with a market capitalization of $15 billion -- and smaller rival THQ (THQI), according to market research firm the NPD Group. Guitar Hero II and Spider-Man 3 were two of the top three best-selling titles for the quarter in the U.S., according to NPD.

For the second quarter, Activision sees revenue of $250 million and a loss of 3 cents a share. Analysts were looking for more in revenue of $251.51 million and a narrower loss of 1 cent a share.

Excluding equity-based compensation expense, the company expects full-year earnings of 61 cents a share and revenue of $1.87 billion. Analysts are expecting revenue of $1.84 billion and EPS of 60 cents.

In the present quarter, Activision said it has already shipped Transformers: The Game, based on the recently released film, internationally and Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s for Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 2 console. The company also expects to ship Enemy Territory: Quake Wars game for the PC in the quarter.

Activision said it plans to ship Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, the next game in the franchise, in the fall. The company did not offer a specific date for the release.

The company also said it has "significantly increased" its capacity for the production of the guitar-shaped peripherals that gamers use to play the Guitar Hero games, to better meet demand in the holiday season.

Other games scheduled for release in time for the holidays include Tony Hawk's Proving Ground, Spiderman: Friend or Foe and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

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