As far as I can tell, the job of financial analyst is half seaside fortune teller, and half looking at the Financial Times and doing the teeth-sucking noise that mechanics make when they realise their clients don't know enough about cars not to be persuaded to buy an unnecessary replacement. I'm not saying they don't provide a valuable and accurate service, just that this service is so far outside my realm of experience as to be utterly bizarre and incomprehensible. Take the following as a perfect example.
According to Arvind Bhatia, a financial analyst with Sterne Agee, sales of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 are on a trend to be 15% down on Modern Warfare 3's, which itself was down 5% from the first BlOps.
Here's the thing: BlOps 2 pulled in $500 million on its first day of retail, a whole $100 million more than MW3's. Even with a sharper downward sales curve, it's still going to make an absolute boatload of money. A smaller boatload than Modern Warfare 3, for sure - maybe a cruise ship instead of an oil tanker - but it's still a lot.
But the Call of Duty franchise makes up 45% of Activision's total earnings - the rest, presumably, coming from terrible James Bond games and Blizzard's output - which is why the analyst has "a cause for concern". As a result Sterne Agee has downgraded Activision's rating from "buy" to "neutral," reducing their 2013 estimates from $4.74 billion to a meagre $4.3 billion. God only knows what rating the analysts would give THQ.