Electronic Arts reported earnings today that beat Wall Street’s expectations for the third fiscal quarter ended December 31, thanks to strong games like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and live operations revenues from existing games.
The Redwood City, California-based EA, a bellwether for video game companies, said its earnings per share were $2.52 a share on non-GAAP revenues (bookings) of $1.978 billion, as calculated by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. That compares to analyst expectations of adjusted EPS of $2.45 on revenue of $1.94 billion. In afterhours trading, EA’s stock price was down 6% at $105 a share. (So yes, it’s not really clear why the stock is falling).
For the fourth fiscal quarter, EA said its non-GAAP revenue (bookings) are expected to be $1.152 billion (down from $1.165 billion) and 93 cents a share (up from 88 cents a share).
In the prior second fiscal quarter ended September 30, EA reported adjusted earnings per share of 97 cents on revenue of $1.277 million.
“It was an excellent third quarter, with our new games and live services delighting more players around the world,” said EA CEO Andrew Wilson in a statement. “Our amazing creative teams at Electronic Arts continue to deliver some of the most high-quality, innovative and engaging experiences and content to a growing global audience.”
Before the earnings came out, analyst Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research said in a note that the game industry faces the challenge of big game delays and a dip in sales as players postpone purchases until the new game consoles come out in the fall.
During the quarter, EA launched Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, Need for Speed: Heat and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
FIFA Ultimate Team matches were up nearly 40% year-over-year from launch through Q3. And during the quarter, The Sims 4 surpassed 20 million unique players worldwide life-to-date.
Digital net bookings hit $4.128 billion for the past 12 months, up 15% from a year earlier, and it now represents 77% of total net bookings. In the previous quarter, it was 78% of net bookings.
“Over the last 12 months, we have delivered record live services revenue, live services net bookings, and operating cash flow,” said chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen in a statement. “Our broad-based business model reduces our dependence on individual titles and enables us to deliver financial results for our shareholders by providing a constant stream of high-quality entertainment for our players. We expect live services to continue to drive growth in fiscal 2021 and for growth to accelerate in fiscal 2022, led by a new Battlefield.”
For the full year, EA said GAAP net revenue is expected to be $5.475 billion, while net income is expected to be $2.93 billion, with $1.705 billion of that related to the one-time income tax benefit.
For the fourth fiscal quarter ending March 31, GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $1.325 billion, EA said. Net income is expected to be about $308 million, or $1.05 a share.
EA’s mobile division was weaker, with revenues down 6% from a year ago at $134 million. EA’s live services were up 27% at $993 million in the quarter.
In a call with analysts, Wilson said that Apex Legends revenues and users continue to grow. He also said Star Wars: Battlefront II revenues were better than expected in the quarter.