Sadly, I am beginning to agree with your position.
The opposite side of the coin is that I just did an off-the-cuff analysis of what revenues will be when the company reports and I have them nearly 10% higher than the highest of what Yahoo Finance reports.
Considering: Black Ops: $1.16B (conservatively)
WoW/Starcraft II: $1.31B (from recent industry stats)
Gives us $2.4B
This puts us $80M above the average estimate. With all the other products the high estimte of $2.63 easily falls and a $2.8B-$2.9B range is likely and topping $3B wouldn't be a complete surprise.
Yet...59% insider ownership is an issue. All long-buyers can hope is they decide to give themselves (and us in the process) a nice dividend.
Am holding with my fingers crossed until the Feb 9th report and then will re-evaluate the hold vs. the where would I rather have my $ options.
Profile, know that my own sadness is as great as your own. I knew this company as a hell-for-leather growth stock that had the audacity to challenge $50 to $70. ERTS.
And they won that battle, but they lost the war.
The "merger" was clearly a buy-out, and now ATVI is a value stock, and you are correct in stating that the best we can hope for is a decent dividend--part of the definition of value stocks.
Earnings will be spectacular--as you suggest--but will be off-set by higher expenses (from Vivendi, Blizzard and Activision), plus those one-time-only expenses which have become the lethal unknowns of several past reports.
The profits from Guitar Hero were spent on paying for the "merger."
Before then, shareholders were assessed the cost of re-stating earnings because management could not read a calendar!
So now, with present ownership, we have become a value stock. We hope for a nice dividend, as you say.
That is far beneath the potential inherent in this franchise, and far beneath what many of us expected when we bought this stock based upon the numbers and the apparently valid scenario for growth.
The growth has gone to the black hole called Vivendi, and we are left with the eternal hope and expectation that the next quarter, the next blockbuster, will result in profits for the average stockholder.