Why Electronic Arts, Inc. Shares Could Stall

While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking analyst upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA  ) slipped about 2% in premarket trading Wednesday after Benchmark downgraded the video game publisher from Buy to Hold.

So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Mike Hickey reiterated his price target of $41.82, representing just 9% worth of upside to Tuesday's close. So while momentum traders might be attracted to EA's year-to-date price strength, Hickey's call could reflect a sense on Wall Street that the risks surrounding the company's growth trajectory are being somewhat overlooked.

Now what: According to Benchmark, EA's risk/reward trade-off is pretty balanced at this point. "The Company's shares have appreciated meaningfully, and could offer limited upside over the next couple of quarters, until execution risk is pacified and / or their fiscal '16 growth opportunity takes shape within a current valuation consideration," said Hickey. "The Company's ability to cut operating expense in the future could be limited, requiring further emphasis on product performance. Management credibility remains high, and have consistently exceeded consensus." With EA shares up nearly 90% over their 52-week lows and trading at a 15-plus forward P/E, it's tough to disagree with Benchmark's cautious stance. 

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Brian Pacampara

I take a look at big 10% moves, as well as stock-shaking analyst calls, on a daily basis for The Fool. While I don't believe in active trading, closely monitoring Mr. Market's mood swings can help identify long-term opportunities.

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9/2/2015 10:38 AM
EA $64.40 Up +0.97 +1.53%
Electronic Arts CAPS Rating: ***