The coronavirus pandemic led many people around the world to start spending more time at home. That significant shift in consumer behavior benefits Electronic Arts (EA -0.02%), which develops and markets games that can be played at home.
The company is releasing its second-quarter results on Nov. 5. Investors interested in the company should look for these three important factors.
1. Robust net bookings growth
The first thing investors will want to consider is the game maker's net bookings, which the company defines as adding total net revenue to the change in deferred revenue. Net bookings increased by 78% in the first quarter, as people spent more time at home and engaged with the company's products more often.
The company expects this momentum to continue in the second quarter and is forecasting net bookings of $875 million in the period, despite the fact that the release of one of its most popular titles, FIFA 21, was pushed back to Oct. 9, which moves it out of the second quarter and into the third quarter.
2. Operating cash flow expansion
In the first quarter operating cash flow more than doubled as revenue increased. While expenses are also rising for the company as it copes with doing business during a pandemic, they're rising significantly less than revenue. Specifically, employee costs are rising across the board for Electronic Arts. Some of it is in response to adding people, and the rest is the added expense of providing support for individuals working from home.
Still, the company is confident in its ability to increase cash flow and raised its forecast for full-year operating cash flow by $275 million to $1.85 billion. Moreover, as with the overall trend in world economies, more of the company's products and services are being purchased through digital channels. This shift benefits profits in that selling a game for download costs the company less than selling a physical game that it has to package and ship to customers and distributors.
3. Management comments
Finally, investors will want to tune in to hear what management has to say on the conference call on Nov. 5. They should pay special attention to management comments regarding the early signs of FIFA 21's launch. The game was released on Oct. 9, which puts it in the company's fiscal third quarter.
However, management will know about how the game is doing between the game release and the conference call on Nov. 5. FIFA is Electronic Arts' most popular game franchise, and the annual installments are consistently among the best-selling games in the industry.
Management may also reveal a new share buyback program on the conference call. The company completed making all the purchases of its previous $2.4 billion program that started in 2018. If they announce such a plan, it could be a further push, sending shares of this video game stock even higher.