Electronic Arts (EA -0.94%) reported strong earnings results last week, with record revenue, bookings, and operating cash flow for fiscal 2021 (which ended in March).
EA's share price is up 20% over the last year, but it has trailed the broader market, where the S&P 500 index has climbed 44% over the same time frame.
There are good reasons to believe that underperformance won't last. Management expects to deliver another record year in fiscal 2022, with major growth catalysts on the horizon. Most importantly, EA offers a cheaper valuation than its peers, which positions the stock for outperformance.
Let's look at three reasons this stock might be worth investing in right now.
1. EA Sports momentum
EA had a big year with its EA Sports titles. Madden NFL had its biggest year of engagement in history. In the March-ending quarter, in-game spending on Ultimate Team live services, including perennial franchises Madden and FIFA, grew 30% year over year.
During the earnings call, CEO Andrew Wilson spoke to the momentum in EA Sports: "We continue to see the consumption of sports move from linear to interactive, representing a major growth opportunity for us spanning more sports and more platforms, especially mobile."
EA will expand its sports lineup with EA Sports PGA Tour, scheduled for release in fiscal fourth-quarter 2022. It's also got new sports franchises coming over from the recent acquisitions of Glu Mobile, Codemasters, and Metalhead Software. Specifically, management is excited about the opportunity to add Glu Mobile's MLB Tap Sports Baseball and Codemasters' F1 2021 to its sports catalog this year.
2. Growth in esports titles
Apex Legends has emerged as one of the most-watched games on live game streaming platforms. The game originally launched two years ago and has reached $1 billion in life-to-date bookings.
Apex generated $600 million in bookings in fiscal 2021, but management continues to see growth worldwide. "We're also seeing explosive growth for Apex in Asia, especially in Japan, where it has grown significantly in the last three quarters," Wilson said.
This fall, EA is launching the next installment in the Battlefield series on Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5. EA is also planning to launch a new mobile title from the Battlefield franchise later in fiscal 2022. Wilson said that "our strategy is to grow Battlefield as we have with our other blockbuster franchises like FIFA and Apex."
3. This growth stock offers good value
"Our two major shooter franchises, Apex Legends and Battlefield, and our ongoing strength in the Ultimate Team provides a tremendous foundation for growth in fiscal 2022," CFO Blake Jorgensen said during the call.
After posting a 15% increase in bookings in fiscal 2021, EA is calling for bookings to grow another 17.9% in fiscal 2022. This rosy outlook is partly boosted by acquisitions but also assumes organic growth in the core business.
In fact, there could be an upside to this forecast, since management admitted it might be too conservative in modeling Battlefield sales.
Analysts expect EA to grow earnings per share by 14% compounded annually over the next five years. That makes EA's forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 22 look attractive relative to other video game stocks, most notably Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO -0.77%).
EA also generates lots of free cash flow that it is returning to shareholders in dividends. The stock currently offers a small dividend yield of 0.48% based on a quarterly payout of $0.17 per share.
EA has great momentum across its largest franchises, with promising growth opportunities in mobile games, esports, and subscription services. The stock nearly doubled in value over the last five years, and the chances are good it can outperform again.