Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS), the second- largest U.S. video-game publisher, reported better-than-expected second-quarter profit, and forecast results this quarter that exceed analysts’ estimates.
Sales in the current third quarter will be $1.55 billion to $1.65 billion, Electronic Arts said today in a statement. Analysts project $1.55 billion, the average of 18 estimates.
Investors are monitoring how “Battlefield 3,” released on Oct. 25, fares in a matchup against No. 1 game maker Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI)’s “Call of Duty” franchise during the holiday period. ‘Battlefield’ received strong reviews and sold nearly 3 million copies in its first two days, Chief Financial Officer Eric Brown said.
“We’re off to a great start” to the quarter, Brown said in an interview. On Dec. 20, Electronic Arts plans to release “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” a multiplayer online game that competes with Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft.”
Sports titles likely drove more than 60 percent of Electronic Arts’ sales in the second quarter, estimated Justin Post, an analyst with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a research note yesterday. Revenue in the current quarter will reflect the contributions of “Battlefield 3,” a first-person shooter game, and “The Sims Social” on Facebook, he wrote.
In the second quarter ended Sept. 30, Electronic Arts posted earnings that exceeded analysts’ expectations. Excluding some items, profit was $17 million, or 5 cents a share, versus the estimated loss of 5 cents projected by analysts. Sales, excluding changes in deferred revenue, rose 17 percent to $1.03 billion, exceeding of the average estimate of $941.95 million.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, focuses on adjusted revenue and earnings because a large portion of sales each quarter are deferred. The second-quarter loss widened to $340 million, or $1.03 a share, from a loss of $201 million, or 61 cents a share, a year earlier, because some sports titles were released late in period, Brown said.
Electronic Arts benefited from sports titles including “FIFA 12” soccer and “Madden NFL 12” football, Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello said in a statement. Digital revenue, including sales from the “Sims” game, rose 30 percent, Brown said, and is exceeding overall industry growth.
Marketing costs increased 28 percent to $222 million in the second quarter, Electronic Arts said. Spending on game development jumped 15 percent to $318 million.
Electronic Arts slipped 4.3 percent in extended trading to $23.50. The shares rose 11 cents to $24.50 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading before the results, and have gained 50 percent this year.
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