You can read a lot by the timing of GW’s product releases. They say detectives aren’t allowed to believe in coincidences…
First of all, lets start off with the disclaimer that I have no financial training, and this column is in no way a forecast, or meant as financial advice.
Ok that out of the way, have you noticed that GW has been pulling out the stops this last year. I believe we have close to 25 product releases over the last year counting codices, WFB army books, End Times, campaign and supplemental codices. That’s roughly a new book every 2 weeks for a year – an absolutely SHOCKING rate or production, and one that leaves every other manufacturer in the industry in the dust. It’s gets even crazier if you consider all those Black Library dataslates, and it’s best to try not to think about the annual “Advent Calender”. Whether this is a sustainable production rate, or whether GW has been “banking products” to allow such a tidal wave of releases is open to debate.
Now GW is a publicly traded company and their fiscal year runs from end of May to end of May. If GW is good at anything, its not rocking the boat and carefully scheduling out those releases across the year VERY carefully to keep revenue nice and even – like their mostly non-industry owners like to see. If you have a knockout first half of the year, you can release some medium interest ranges in the 2nd half to even things out. What companies like to avoid is the “AMAZING YEAR – terrible year” cycles that can spook investors, or even worse cause internal politics and board-driven stresses. Heck executives often lose their jobs over things like that… and who wants that?
So note some interesting timing of releases going on…
Harlequins – it’s only been 5 months!
GW-mid year report (may-november – 2014) (PDF here) showed a roughly 6% decrease in revenue year per year. Here is how the CEO reported it:
“Games Workshop’s core business model remains strong. Our current initiatives of ever better weekly new product releases, the low cost one man stores in retail and the stockist programme in trade, are designed to lead to growth. The board remains confident in the future growth and profitability of the Group.”
In a situation like that, any sharp-minded CEO is going to get the executive staff together, roll up his (or her) sleeves and do whatever it takes to have a fantastic 2nd half of the year to pull off a nice steady annual report.
Now look at what GW has released in the last 6 months: (I’m sure I missed some)
- End times: Skaven
- Blood Angels
- End Times Archaon
- Khorne Daemonkin
- Cult Mechanicus
- Space Marines
Does that sound like a solid lineup if you are looking to rake in the cash? It’s always nice to have good ole reliable Space Marines to round out the fiscal year. We wont know exactly how GW did until next month but here is their little note to curious investors:
“We expect the Group’s profit for the year to 31 May 2015 to be broadly in line with market expectations… We will provide full and detailed information, including the effects of adverse exchange rates, at the time of our results announcement”
So that sounds like “steady as she goes” doesn’t it?
Onto the NEW YEAR! – Age of Sigmar HO!
Now as we move into the new year we hit summer, when GW usually rolls out new product editions slowly over the summer, and more importantly, their 1st quarter.
We have word that GW is planning a big slate of Age of Sigar / WFB 9th releases, with no 40K to be seen till Q2. It seems rather odd, until you realize that Q1 is the best time for GW to rollout something this new (and risky) and roll the dice. Note the following:
1) The 40K community is breathing hard just trying to catch up to all the breakneck releases. We will all be fine over the summer just reading all those books up there, and gettin a change to take some time and paint up and master some of the MANY new armies that are available.
2) GW can focus entirely for a quarter on launching a new product line, (and it really sounds like you should consider Age of Sigmar something entirely new). Being able to focus on it exclusively for a quarter will let them build up customer excitement and momentum – giving it the best chance of gaining a foothold and getting off to a strong start.
3) Finally, if something goes wrong, – well a public company would always to get its mishaps behind it in Q1, with plenty of time to move things around and rearrange schedules to shore up the fiscal year. Having Q2-Q4 to right a listing ship should normally do the trick.
Food for thought & happy gaming! What do you read in the GW release tea leaves?