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Electronic Arts' sales disappoint but earnings forecast increases

8:00 am ET November 2, 2022 (MarketWatch)

By Wallace Witkowski and Jeremy C. Owens

Videogame publisher's executives reduce yearly target for revenue and bookings, but push earnings forecast higher

Electronic Arts Inc. missed sales expectations in a quarterly report Tuesday, as executives reduced their revenue and bookings guidance for the year but increased their forecast for profit.

Known for its sports franchises like "Madden NFL" as well as action titles like "Apex Legends" and "Battlefield 2042," EA (EA) reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $299 million, or $1.07 a share, up from $1.02 a share a year ago. EA did not provide adjusted earnings information, though analysts tend to estimate and judge the company on those results.

Revenue rose to $1.9 billion from $1.83 billion in the year-ago quarter. Bookings, which account for deferred revenue, reached $7.38 billion over the past 12 months, the company said. Net bookings for the quarter were $1.75 billion, compared with $1.85 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of $1.37 a share on revenue of $1.94 billion and net bookings of $1.81 billion. EA shares initially fell about 2% in after-hours trading following the release of the results, but ended extended trading up slightly following a 0.3% gain to $126.27 in the regular session.

Videogame companies have struggled this year, as a pandemic-era boom in gaming slows down and software publishers face comparisons to huge growth in the previous years. EA has held up better than most, however, as its sports-themed games tend to bring in regular customers every year -- including a "record" launch for soccer game "FIFA 23" that began on the last day of the quarter -- and the company's mobile division has not shown a huge drop-off like some others.

For more: As pandemic videogame boom wanes, merger madness takes over

"Despite one of the worst quarterly performances for the mobile games industry that we can recall (worldwide consumer spending = -13% y/y), we forecast EA's biz up +8%," Stifel analysts wrote ahead of the report, while maintaining a "Buy" rating but reducing their price target to $144 from $152. "And at just 17% of FY2Q23 net bookings, the company's exposure to this struggling category is lower vs. other publishers across our coverage universe."

For the fiscal third quarter -- which will include the bulk of the proceeds from the "FIFA" launch -- EA executives guided for earnings of 43 cents to 59 cents a share on revenue of $1.825 billion to $1.925 billion and bookings of $2.425 billion to $2.525 billion. Analysts had estimated earnings of $3.01 a share on revenue of $2.07 billion and bookings of $2.56 billion for the fiscal third quarter, according to FactSet.

For the full year, executives increased their earnings target but reduced guidance for revenue and bookings, citing the strengthening dollar. Executives now expect annual earnings of $3.11 to $3.34 a share, up from $2.79 to $2.84 a share previously, crediting a decline in cost of revenue seen through the rest of the year due to a shift in revenue mixes; total revenue is now expected to be $7.55 billion to $7.75 billion, reduced by $50 million from the previous range; and bookings are now forecast at $7.65 billion to $7.85 , down from $7.9 billion to $8.1 billion. Analysts on average were projecting adjusted earnings of $7.14 a share on revenue of $7.72 billion and bookings of $7.95 billion for the year.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Suh said that the reduction in sales estimates were due to the strengthening dollar, which he said had led to a $200 million reduction in annual net-bookings expectations from when the guidance was originally issued.

"Beyond [foreign exchange], our business fundamentals remain healthy with strong player engagement trends across our platforms and franchises," he said.

Wedbush analysts Michael Pachter and Nick McKay predicted last week that EA executives would reduce their yearly forecast "due to several factors, including unfavorable foreign currency translation, macroeconomic pressure, a challenging marketplace for mobile games, the competitive landscape and release timing."

The analysts maintained their "outperform" rating on the stock and $170 12-month price target, however.

"These potential headwinds are largely transitory in our view, and we remain believers in the company's long-term growth potential anchored by its leading sports brands, high-profile nonsports franchises, and the vast mobile opportunity," they wrote.

Shares of EA have declined about 5% year to date, compared with a 19% drop on the S&P 500 index .

-Wallace Witkowski


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 02, 2022 08:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

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