3 Top Gaming Stocks Could Be Poised for a Big Second Half of 2016

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One area of the technology world that usually holds up well regardless of how the rest of the market is doing is gaming, and with good reason. With companies constantly looking for new angles to attract and keep consumers involved in interactive entertainment, the competition remains brisk and new video game players are added to the ranks every year.

With the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 as it’s known, just finished for this year, it looks like the leading companies will stay in the front of the pack. A new research report from Baird notes that the firm’s meetings at the conference reinforce its overall positive sector thesis, as core usage trends remain healthy and improvements in hardware are very positive for the top publishers.

The Baird team likes three top stocks, and all are rated Outperform

Activision Blizzard

This company reported very solid first-quarter quarter results and remains a top pick on Wall Street. Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) develops and publishes online, personal computer (PC), video game console, handheld, mobile and tablet games worldwide.

The company develops and publishes interactive entertainment software products through retail channels or digital downloads and downloadable content to a range of gamers. The company’s Call of Duty franchise, which has propelled earnings for this industry powerhouse for years lead a strong product inventory along with other favorites like Skylanders and Guitar Hero.

The big news last fall was the company’s purchase of Candy Crush saga creator King Digital Entertainment, and most of Wall Street thinks the buy is an outstanding move for the company and specifically the synergies between the two companies is cited. Many analysts feel that the key to unlocking some monster value is creating and cross-promoting the Activision product inside the King Digital mobile distribution network.

Some analysts feel the company could earn up to $3 per shares by 2018 if it can optimize the King Digital advertising opportunities and unlock synergies. The Baird team notes that the new Overwatch game has blown past 10 million users since its release in late May. They also feel that there is big upside to their original estimate of 6 million units, and they are upping the estimates for 8.5 million and raising the price target on the stock.

Shareholders are paid a small 0.67% dividend. The Baird price target for the stock was raised to $43, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $42.57. The stock closed Friday at $38.08 per share.