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Video game publisher Take-Two's quarterly booking forecast disappoints

Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc is seen for sale in a store in Manhattan, New York City

By Zaheer Kachwala

(Reuters) -Take-Two Interactive Software forecast fourth-quarter bookings below market expectations and cut its annual estimates on Thursday, on signs of weak demand for its gaming titles such as "NBA 2K", sending its shares plunging 10% after the bell.

Lower consumer spending and stiff competition from players such as Electronic Arts and Microsoft-owned Activision Blizzard are hurting the video game publisher.

Take-Two forecast fourth-quarter bookings in the range of $1.27 billion to $1.32 billion, compared with analysts' expectations of $1.51 billion, according to LSEG data.

It also cut its projection for full-year bookings to a range of $5.25 billion to $5.30 billion from its earlier forecast of $5.45 billion to $5.55 billion.

"The forecast cut is almost entirely attributable to the shift of a game out of the fiscal year, so no real impact on the company's long-term prospects", said Wedbush securities analyst Michael Pachter.

But the company's latest projection of "a little above $7 billion for net bookings" for fiscal 2025, after its last year's downwardly revised forecast of under $8 billion dashed investors' hopes.

They were expecting a boost from Take-Two's "Grand Theft Auto VI", the latest installment of the best-selling franchise that is set for a 2025 release.

"The reduction in outlook tells you it's ("Grand Theft Auto VI") not coming next fiscal year," Pachter added.

THIRD-QUARTER HIT

Take-Two's net bookings fell 3% to $1.34 billion in the third quarter, in line with analysts' estimates.

The solid performance of games such as "GTA Online" and the "Red Dead Redemption" series was partially offset by softness in mobile advertising and sales of "NBA 2K", according to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 71 cents per share compared with estimates of 72 cents.

(Reporting by Zaheer Kachwala in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)