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MIDAS SHARE TIPS UPDATE: Gaming gets serious as our tip Keywords Studios rises 17-fold in seven years










Last week, Microsoft announced it was paying $69billion (£50billion) for Activision Blizzard, the video games group behind such hugely popular titles as Call Of Duty and Candy Crush. The amount, roughly equal to Northern Ireland’s annual economic output, provides graphic evidence of the store that industry giants set by the video gaming industry. 

With good reason: the market generated sales of more than £130billion in 2021 and forecasters expect that to increase to £160billion a year within three years. 

Keywords Studios is a major beneficiary of gaming’s growing popularity. The business was floated on AIM at £1.23 in 2013 and was recommended by Midas at £1.53 two years later. Today, the shares are £26.38, Keywords is valued on the stock market at £2billion and City brokers are confident that there is plenty more growth to come. 

Fired up: Keywords Studios works on video games including Call Of Duty

Fired up: Keywords Studios works on video games including Call Of Duty

Keywords helps games publishers to make their products more successful. The group provides music and artwork for games, creates enticing trailers and social media posts, tests titles before they are released and translates them into several languages.

Keywords even helps to develop games for publishers. Customers include both Microsoft and Activision, Sony, Google, Apple and Nintendo. The company has worked on hundreds of top games and the business is growing fast, expanding its range of services organically and through acquisition. 

A trading update last month revealed that figures for 2021 would be ahead of market expectations with sales up 35 per cent to €505million (£420million) and profits up 55 per cent to more than €85million. New chief executive Bertrand Bodson was even confident enough to declare that turn­over this year would be at the top end of forecasts, as demand for Keywords’ services expands and develops. 

Another update this week should underscore December’s upbeat outlook, perhaps prompting brokers to look again at their forecasts for 2021 and 2022. Current estimates show sales rising 18 per cent this year to €594million, with profits up 9 per cent to €93million. The company reports in euros because it was founded in Ireland and is still headquartered in Dublin, but dividends are declared in sterling, with 2.1p pencilled in for 2021, rising to 2.25p this year. 

Video games soared in popularity when the coronavirus pandemic erupted and lockdowns were declared across the world. There were predictions that growth would slow when consumers were allowed to leave their homes and pursue other leisure activities. But it seems as if gaming has an enduring appeal, as there are now around three billion gamers worldwide – almost 40 per cent of the global population.

Midas verdict: Keywords Studios has been a phenomenal success story and investors who bought in 2015 have enjoyed a more than 17-fold increase in the share price. They may be tempted to sell out now, particularly following lacklustre numbers from streaming giant Netflix last week. 

But Keywords is still growing fast and Bodson is keen to prove his mettle. Shareholders needing to find some cash as tax and credit card bills loom may choose to reduce their holdings. Others should keep the faith. 

Traded on: AIM Ticker: KWS Contact: keywordsstudios.com or 00 353 1 902 2730 

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New sneak peek pictures have been released from inside the hugely-anticipated Game of Thrones studio experience.

One of the photographs shows how fans will be able to step across the flagstones of the Great Hall at Winterfell – retracing Jon Snow’s footsteps in the scene in which he was proclaimed the ‘King in the North’.  

Other pictures show how the tour will house a reconstruction of the production design department and elaborate displays of original costumes from the fantasy series.

New sneak peek pictures have been released from inside the hugely-anticipated Game of Thrones studio experience

New sneak peek pictures have been released from inside the hugely-anticipated Game of Thrones studio experience

One of the photographs shows how fans will be able to step across the flagstones of the Great Hall at Winterfell (pictured)

One of the photographs shows how fans will be able to step across the flagstones of the Great Hall at Winterfell (pictured)

In the Great Hall (pictured), fans will be able to retrace Jon Snow's footsteps in the scene in which he was proclaimed the ‘King in the North'

In the Great Hall (pictured), fans will be able to retrace Jon Snow’s footsteps in the scene in which he was proclaimed the ‘King in the North’

The Game of Thrones Studio Tour will open on February 4, 2022, at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Northern Ireland – where parts of the acclaimed HBO series were filmed.    

The £24million interactive tour promises to ‘transport fans into the very heart of Westeros’, bringing ‘visitors closer to the Seven Kingdoms than ever before’. 

Previously released pictures showed that Daenerys Targaryen’s ‘imposing’ Dragonstone throne is among the props that will feature in the 110,000-square-foot (10,219 metres sq) experience. Daenerys’ white fur coat will also be showcased – its layered design was inspired by the scales of her beloved dragons. Fans will also be able to view Sansa Stark’s wedding dress and Jon Snow’s winter furs.

Lifting the curtain on what happened behind the scenes during the making of the series, visitors will be invited to learn about the craftsmanship that helped to ‘bring the show to life’, from makeup artistry to set decoration. 

One of the sneak peek pictures shows an elaborate display of original costumes from the fantasy series

One of the sneak peek pictures shows an elaborate display of original costumes from the fantasy series 

The above image shows how the tour will house a reconstruction of the production design department

The above image shows how the tour will house a reconstruction of the production design department

Fans will get the chance to learn about visual effects that went into the series, before ‘testing out their acting skills’ in an interactive green screen experience. 

Visitors will also hear ‘the tales behind the creation of the iconic arms’ that appear on the Game of Thrones battlefields, from Valerian steel to dragonglass. 

A statement previously revealed: ‘The immersive and sensory-based experience utilises cutting edge design and technology to bring Westeros to life and will evoke the show’s epic scale – from King’s Landing, Winterfell, Dragonstone, The Wall and the lands beyond.’  

A 'production design' display in the tour, which will open on February 4, 2022, at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge

A ‘production design’ display in the tour, which will open on February 4, 2022, at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge

The £24million interactive tour, pictured, promises to ‘transport fans into the very heart of Westeros’

The £24million interactive tour, pictured, promises to ‘transport fans into the very heart of Westeros’

After working up an appetite, visitors can stop at one of two onsite cafes – described as ‘the perfect places to power up for your tour’. 

Earlier this month, Peter van Roden, Senior Vice President of Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, said: ‘Knowing you are in the very same spot where some of the series’ most memorable moments were filmed is an incredible feeling and we know fans of the franchise will feel the same when they see the rich detail in the sets, costumes and props up close and personal.’

Andrew Webb and David Browne, Executive Directors at Linen Mill Studios, added: ‘After many years as a closed and “off limits” film studio, it is now time for fans from across the world to step inside the Seven Kingdoms and make their own personal journey through the world of Westeros at Linen Mill Studios.’

The Game of Thrones Studio Tour will house props such as Daenerys Targaryen’s Dragonstone throne (pictured)

The Game of Thrones Studio Tour will house props such as Daenerys Targaryen’s Dragonstone throne (pictured) 

Daenerys' white fur coat, its layered design inspired by the scales of her dragons, will be showcased at the new attraction

Daenerys’ white fur coat, its layered design inspired by the scales of her dragons, will be showcased at the new attraction

Game of Thrones is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by US novelist George R R Martin. It tells the story of nine families in mythical and magical Westeros and their fight to gain power in the region. 

The series, which debuted in 2011, ran for eight seasons and made international stars of the likes of Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.

It was primarily shot in Northern Ireland, but locations across Europe – from Scotland to Iceland – were also used. 

Props on display in the tour. Visitors will be invited to learn about the craftsmanship that helped to 'bring the show to life', from makeup artistry to set decoration

Props on display in the tour. Visitors will be invited to learn about the craftsmanship that helped to ‘bring the show to life’, from makeup artistry to set decoration 

‘The immersive and sensory-based experience utilises cutting edge design and technology to bring Westeros to life,' a statement reveals

‘The immersive and sensory-based experience utilises cutting edge design and technology to bring Westeros to life,’ a statement reveals 

With the opening of the Studio Tour looming, Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: ‘Over the past decade, Northern Ireland has welcomed fans from around the globe to the “real-world Westeros” – home to the stunning landscapes, coastlines and mountains that have featured in some of the show’s most memorable scenes.’

He added that the tour ‘will bring the Seven Kingdoms vividly to life, in the place where it all began.’

Tickets for the Game of Thrones Studio Tour are on sale now, with prices starting from £39.50 for adults. For more information, visit gameofthronesstudiotour.com.

Pictured is Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in the acclaimed series, which debuted in 2011

Pictured is Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in the acclaimed series, which debuted in 2011

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