Shares of video-game publisher Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) rose in after-hours trading on Tuesday following a better-than-expected earnings report. In the second quarter, Electronic Arts earned an adjusted $0.73 per share on revenue of $1.220 billion. Both figures exceeded Electronic Arts' own guidance of $0.50 per share on $1.140 billion and Wall Street's expectations.
Even more bullish, the company raised its annual guidance for both revenue and earnings.
Electronic Arts continues to dominate the console space
Among Western markets, Electronic Arts continues to be the leading publisher on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. During the quarter, Electronic Arts released several major new console titles, including FIFA 15, NHL 15, and Madden NFL 15. Titanfall, which launched back in March, received new digital content.
Electronic Arts noted that its console and PC customers have spent more than 1.9 billion hours playing its games, and that the new edition of Madden was especially popular, with 48% more matches played this quarter than in the prior year.
Digital revenues keep growing
Electronic Arts has been an aggressive supporter of digital distribution, which makes sense, as digital game sales carry higher margins than disc-based ones do. A year ago, Electronic Arts' digital net revenue composed about 33% of its adjusted revenue; that percentage rose to 37% this quarter.
In July, Electronic Arts announced EA Access -- a digital subscription service exclusive to the Xbox One. That probably contributed to Electronic Arts' digital revenue, though the company declined to disclose the number of subscribers in its earnings release.
It did, however, point out the success of its Ultimate Team service: Players of Electronic Arts' sports games can buy individual players using digital coins, which can be purchased with real money. In total, these microtransactions grew 96% on an annual basis.
Electronic Arts' mobile games -- which are entirely digital -- also appear to be succeeding, with its monthly active users rising 250% on a year-over-year basis.
Battlefield gets a release date
When Electronic Arts last reported earnings, shares declined. A major contributor to that decline was the company's decision to delay Battlefield: Hardline. The game, which will be the next installment in Electronic Arts' popular Battlefield series, had been expected to launch in time for this year's holiday shopping season.
Management cited quality concerns, claiming that a delay of several months will allow its developers time to offer a better product. Still, it was enough to spook investors, with Electronic Arts shares falling more than 6%.
But Electronic Arts has finally set a release date for Battlefield: Hardline: March 17. The game should prove to be one of the most popular titles of the spring quarter, as it will face much less competition.
Best of all, Electronic Arts' management is confident enough in its business to raise its guidance: It now expects to earn an adjusted $2.05 this fiscal year, on revenue of $4.175 billion. Previously, it had expected to earn $1.85 on revenue of $4.1 billion.
This past quarter's beat will contribute, but the holiday shopping season should also be good for Electronic Arts. In addition to its recently released sports games, its upcoming RPG, Dragon Age: Inquisition, should also add to its results.
On a purely valuation basis, Electronic Arts -- with a nearly triple-digit price-to-earnings ratio -- remains a relatively expensive stock, but its business appears to be firing on all cylinders.
Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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