Activision Blizzard (ATVI - Get Report) is poised to score some major gains from the "eSports bonanza" and changing trends in the video gaming industry -- making the stock a clear buy, says Jim Cramer.
The video-game publisher is quickly becoming a core player in the world of competitive-video gaming, as the Overwatch League -- its global eSports league -- officially kicked off on Wednesday night. The first event of the season was streamed on Amazon's (AMZN - Get Report) gaming platform, Twitch, and attracted more than 400,000 viewers. The season has four five-week-long stages where 12 teams compete in Activision's Blizzard Arena in Burbank, Calif.
Rival game companies Electronic Arts (EA - Get Report) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO - Get Report) have also launched professional eSports offerings, but Cramer believes Activision has a competitive edge in the space.
"This eSports bonanza is key to our theory about why the stock's a buy, as one of the biggest factors causing us to select Activision over other game developers such as EA or Take-Two is that we believe Activision is doing the most in terms of creating a real eSports league, one structured similar to traditional sports leagues," Cramer said during a private conference call with members of his Action Alerts PLUS club for investors.
Not only does eSports attract massive audiences, but it also counts sports industry titans like Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots; New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon; Los Angeles Rams owners Stan and Josh Kroenke as well as sports legends Alex Rodriguez and Shaquille O'Neal as investors.
That said, eSports is still a fairly new industry, so despite the revolutionary opportunities, it's likely the most speculative aspect of Activision, Cramer noted.
"However, the core business -- the one really responsible for driving earnings growth in the near-term -- is red hot," he added. Activision titles Call of Duty: WWII and Destiny 2 were the top two highest-selling console games of 2017, while "Destiny 2" was the biggest PC game launch in the company's history. These titles are expected to be major catalysts for Activision, especially as more consumers and developers seek out add-on purchases and additional downloadable content that extends the life of the games, Cramer said.
He also said that Activision's mobile-gaming initiative is expected to be another big driver for the company -- especially in China, a market which Goldman Sachs recently estimated could be worth $46 billion in the future.
Video gaming is an "industry on the rise" with multiple catalysts, including digital downloads and the rise of virtual reality, the stockpicker added. Together, these present big opportunities for Activision.
"Bottom line, add all this together and we think we not only have a great name, but a great name in a rapidly growing industry," Cramer said.
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