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EA beats on FQ4 sales and earnings, shares jump

Electronic Arts, a US-based producer of video games for consoles, personal computers, mobile phones, and tablets, posted strong financials for its fiscal 2016 fourth quarter ended March 31. Adjusted revenues climbed 3.1% y-o-y to $924 mn topping consensus estimate of USD 889 mn. The company continued to manage the shift in consumer preferences from prepackaged games to digital services, luring players online to play games like FIFA, Madden NFL and Hockey Ultimate Team. Continued strength in Star Wars Battlefront sales also helped as the company sold 14 mn units of Battlefront in the fiscal year. Digital revenues (77% of total revenues) jumped 18.3% to $712 mn while revenues from EA’s Packaging goods and other segment (23% of revenues) decreased 27.9% to $212 mn. Operating margin expanded to 23% from 18% reported in the prior-year quarter, and adjusted earnings per share rose 28.2% to 50 cents beating analysts’ 42-cent average projection.

EA exited fiscal 2016 with $3.8 bn in cash and short-term investments compared with $3 bn as of March 31, 2015. Capex for the year was $93 mn while free cash flow amounted to $1.13 bn. During the quarter, the company repurchased 9.9 mn shares for $634 mn bringing the FY2016 tally to around $1 bn.

EA provided guidance for fiscal 2017 and expects to generate non-GAAP revenues of approximately $4.9 bn, up 7% y-o-y, driven by a strong pipeline of new releases namely Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Adjusted earnings are forecast to be $3.50 per share, 11% higher y-o-y. The company also projects operating margin of 29.7% and free cash flow of $1.2 bn.

Strong FQ4 results helped EA’s shares to break both 50-day moving average and $70 resistance level. I believe the stock is well positioned to continue growth, with medium-term target at $80.