Electronic Arts beat analyst estimates for its second fiscal quarter that ended September 30, even though its only major releases in the quarter were sports games. But the company’s stock price fell in after-hours trading, perhaps because EA earlier (back in August) downgraded its earnings estimates for the full year based on lower Battlefield V revenues.
During the quarter, EA launched its usual stable of sports games: Madden NFL 19, FIFA 19, NBA Live 19, and NHL 19. EA reported revenue of $1.28 billion and earnings per share of 83 cents. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 58 cents on revenues of $1.18 billion. EA’s stock is down 5 percent to $90.01 a share in after-hours trading.
But EA said it expects revenues for the all-important third-fiscal quarter ending December 31 will be about $1.73 billion. Analysts had expected $2 billion. That suggests EA is being very cautious about its only major release in the quarter: Battlefield V, which was delayed from October to November 20, to get out of the way of the Red Dead Redemption 2 tidal wave. (EA is also launching Command & Conquer: Rivals on mobile on December 4, but that is not viewed as a huge game).
“It was a strong second quarter, as we entertained players with four high-quality new EA Sports games, hundreds of content updates in our live services, and esports programs that reached record viewership,” said EA CEO Andrew Wilson in a statement. “We’re incredibly excited to bring innovative new games like Battlefield V and Command & Conquer: Rivals to our players this holiday season, and launch our breakthrough new IP Anthem in February. We’re set to deliver some amazing new ways to play and compete through the rest of this fiscal year and beyond.”
EA didn’t say how many copies it shipped for the sports games. It noted that the FIFA eWorld Cup Final was record-setting, including a four-fold increase in global viewership over last year, and more than 20 million players participating through the course of the FIFA 18 Global Series.
Colin Sebastian, analyst at Baird Equity Research, wasn’t concerned about the lower Q3 guidance.
“While F3Q guidance was below consensus expectations on both the top- and bottom-line, management reiterated the prior FY19 revenue outlook, and as expected, revised FY19 EPS outlook is in line with our recently lowered estimates following the delay of Battlefield V,” Sebastian wrote in a research report.
It also said that FIFA Mobile daily active players grew 50 percent year-over-year. Worldwide player spending in EA’s mobile titles totaled an estimated $180 million last quarter, led by Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes at $53.4 million or about 30 percent of the total, according to mobile measurement firm Sensor Tower.
FIFA Soccer was the growth leader among the publisher’s mobile catalog, posting a year-over-year increase of 22 percent and taking in $16.8 million, placing it second after Galaxy of Heroes for revenue in the quarter, Sensor Tower said.
At the end of its last fiscal year, EA said it expected earnings per share of $3.55. Now, it is saying it expects $3.11 a share.
“We’re pleased with the performance of our business through the second quarter, and particularly with the strong digital net bookings,” said chief operating officer Blake Jorgensen, in a statement. “We continue to deliver strong digital revenues across multiple platforms, business models and geographic territories.”
Of course, it looks like investors didn’t get a look at EA’s big vision for Project Atlas, spelled out last night. EA has $4.5 billion in cash.
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