Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Competition Takes a Toll on Electronic Arts' Earnings

By Joe Tenebruso – May 9, 2019 at 3:59PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

New games and services should help the digital entertainment giant's growth rebound in the year ahead.

Electronic Arts (EA -0.71%) reported fiscal 2019 fourth-quarter financial results on May 7. The video game publisher saw its sales and profits dented by intense competition from rival game makers, but a blockbuster new franchise has management optimistic about fiscal 2020.

Electronic Arts results: The raw numbers


Q4 2019

Q4 2018

Year-Over-Year Change

Net revenue

$1.24 billion

$1.58 billion


Net income

$209 million

$607 million


Earnings per share




Data source: Electronic Arts Q4 2019 earnings release.

What happened with Electronic Arts this quarter?

Net revenue fell 22% year over year to $1.2 billion, mainly due to disappointing sales of the company's Battlefield V and Command & Conquer games. However, this figure was $75 million above Electronic Arts' guidance. 

Moreover, net bookings -- essentially, the dollar amount of products and services Electronic Arts sold during the quarter -- rose 9% to nearly $1.4 billion. The gains were fueled in part by the growth of the company's live services, which include EA's subscription services and in-game transactions.

"The last 12 months have been a time of change for the video game industry," CFO Blake Jorgensen said during a conference call with analysts. "Nevertheless, we ended our fiscal year with strong growth, driven by our live services businesses, which continued to provide a very large, stable, and profitable source of net bookings.

Notably, Electronic Arts' player base has grown to more than 500 million active player accounts. New games such as EA's popular free-to-play battle royale game Apex Legends are helping the company reach new audiences around the world.

"Apex Legends is the fastest growing new game we've ever had, quickly reaching the milestone of 50 million players, and millions more have continued to join," CEO Andrew Wilson said. "It has also helped us tap into new player audiences, as nearly 30% of Apex Legends players are new to EA." 

Characters from Electronic Arts' new Apex Legends game are shown fighting

Electronic Arts' new Apex Legends game is helping it attract millions of new players. Image source: Electronic Arts.

Additionally, esports are helping to boost player engagement with EA's venerable FIFA and Madden NFL franchises. Viewership for the company's FIFA competitive gaming tournaments was up 60% year over year, and its Madden Bowl tournament was watched by seven times as many peak viewers as last year's event. 

Still, lower revenue resulted in a 66% decline in net income to $209 million, or $0.69 per share. That was, however, $0.13 better than the company's guidance. 

Looking forward

Management sees better times ahead. Electronic Arts' guidance for fiscal 2020 includes:

  • Net bookings of approximately $5.1 billion, representing year-over-year growth of about 3%.
  • Net revenue of $5.375 billion, up 9%.
  • Net income -- adjusted to exclude a one-time tax benefit -- of $1.095 billion, up 7%.
  • Adjusted EPS of $3.56, up 7%.
  • Operating cash flow of $1.575 billion, up 2%.

"Players are engaging with games in more ways than ever before," Wilson said. "We're committed to meeting them where they are with a broad portfolio of amazing new games and live services, choice of engagement models including free-to-play and subscriptions, and new opportunities to play, compete, and watch."

Joe Tenebruso has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Electronic Arts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Electronic Arts Inc. Stock Quote
Electronic Arts Inc.
$114.82 (-0.71%) $0.82

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.