Need for Speed Underground -- a 2 Fast 2 Furious-inspired racer -- led the way as EA's holiday bestseller. In all, 11 of the company's titles sold over 1 million units in the quarter, including Medal of Honor Rising Sun, FIFA Soccer 2004, and Madden NFL 2004 -- the industry's best-selling game in 2003.
As a result, third-quarter sales jumped 20% year over year to $1.48 billion. Sales in Europe alone climbed 40% to $471 million, accounting for 38% of revenue. Meanwhile, net income soared 57% to $392 million, beating analyst estimates handily. Boosting that bottom line, gross margins gained an impressive 11 percentage points to 65.2%.
And EA continues to roll out blockbusters. The company claims 27 platinum titles (1 million units sold) over the past 12 months, and just recently added another. Less than two weeks ago, the company released the highly anticipated NFL Street on the Sony
On a sour note, the company pushed the release of The Sims 2.0 and Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault into fiscal 2005. As a result, while EA expects fourth-quarter revenue to climb a respectable 19%-23% year over year, the expected $0.17-$0.20 in earnings is well short of the average analyst expectations.
Long term, Electronic Arts is a groundbreaker and remains my favorite of David Gardner's Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks (Activision