Activision Blizzard CEO up for CEO of the Year.
The recipe for success includes one pinch of Guitar Hero, two dashes of Call of Duty, and a heaping helping of Wrath of the Lich King. MarketWatch (of the Wall Street Journal) has announced that Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard has made the finals for the MarketWatch CEO of the Year award for 2008. While I might be biased because I do enjoy a host of games created by his company, it is hard to argue with the numbers. According to MarketWatch:
Sales had increased an average of 31% annualized over the past five years on the strength of hot video-game franchises such as "Guitar Hero," "Call of Duty" and "Tony Hawk." Meanwhile, net income had averaged an annual growth rate of 88% during that same period, despite competing in a highly cyclical industry where companies typically swing wildly between profit and loss.
The company has also increased the cash on its balance sheet every year during that period and now has more than $2.8 billion in the bank -- part of which is financing a recently announced $1 billion share-buyback program.
This steady performance has benefited shareholders handsomely. Over the past decade, Activision's shares have grown by more than 1,000% on a split-adjusted basis. By comparison, Electronic Arts' share price has risen about 118% in that time.
Like [Warren] Buffett, Kotick has displayed a value investor's knack for acquiring businesses cheaply and at seemingly inopportune times, only to unlock their potential in an effective way that adds value to the company as a whole.
The article discusses how Bobby got into the games industry (licensing for Mario for those that want to win a trivia contest), and how he and Mike Morhaime set up the mega-gaming factory now known as Activision Blizzard. The whole life and times of Bobby Kotick can be found in the MarketWatch nomination article.
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