No, that's not a typo. After the bell yesterday, Electronics Boutique (Nasdaq: ELBO ) reported that earnings had increased fivefold to $7.3 million, or $0.30 per share, beating analysts' estimates by a penny. Third-quarter revenue also grew 37% to $446 million. The increasingly fierce competition among video game publishers has clearly had a favorable effect on the specialty video game retailer's bottom line.
According to CEO Jeffrey Griffiths, the company saw gains across the board. Same-store sales were up 13.8%, helped by "anticipated new release performance," the early launch of Sony's (NYSE: SNE ) new PlayStation 2 model, and continued growth in the higher-margin pre-played games business.
Mr. Griffiths should be forgiven for humming Christmas carols around the office in the next few weeks. Just in time for the holiday season, the company opened a record 140 new stores, finishing the third quarter with 1,869 in operation. Recent blowout releases of Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Halo 2 and Take-Two Interactive's (Nasdaq: TTWO ) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, as well as next week's launch of Nintendo's new portable gaming system, give the company additional reasons for its optimism.
Electronics Boutique will also benefit from the highly anticipated releases of Electronic Arts' (Nasdaq: ERTS ) Need for Speed Underground 2, Sony's Gran Turismo 4, Konami's (NYSE: KNM ) Metal Gear Solid 3, and a new Star Wars game, as well as the somewhat overshadowed releases of Activision's (Nasdaq: ATVI ) Tony Hawk's Underground 2 and Call of Duty.
Electronics Boutique expects to earn $1.62 to $1.72 per share in the fourth quarter, accounting for about three-quarters of the company's earnings for the year. This, alas, is slightly below analysts' expectations, and the stock has fallen 5.15% by mid-day to $39.22. Nonetheless, at 17 times this year's earnings, this stock maintains a decent valuation for one of the more relevant players in this industry.
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Electronic Arts and Activision are both among David Gardner'sMotley Fool Stock Advisorrecommendations.
Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Electronic Arts.