Games publisher EA's fourth quarter profit, revenue trump estimates


Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc (NASDAQ:EA), known for titles such as "FIFA" and "Madden NFL", posted better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue, helped by strong digital sales and the release of "Battlefield Hardline".

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The company's shares rose 4.8 percent after the bell on Tuesday.

EA also announced a new buyback program of up to $1 billion of common stock.

Total revenue rose 5.5 percent to $1.19 billion for the fourth quarter ended March 31 from $1.12 billion a year earlier.

The company's digital business, which includes software distributed through direct downloads, accounted for about 52 percent of total revenue.

EA also forecast full-year revenue of $4.25 billion. On an adjusted basis, the company forecast full-year revenue of $4.40 billion and a profit of $2.75 per share.

Analysts on average were expecting profit of $2.64 per share and revenue of $4.48 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

EA has benefited by offering its popular PC and online games on mobile devices, using a high-margin "freemium" model in which games are available for free but are monetized through advertising or by charging gamers for additional features.

EA and Visceral Games launched their much-awaited "Battlefield Hardline" title in mid-March. The title's physical retail version topped research firm NPD Group's March Top 10 Games list.

More than 30 million game sessions of "Battlefield Hardline" were played in the quarter, the company said.

EA's net income rose to $395 million, or $1.19 per share, for the fourth quarter ended March 31, from $367 million, or $1.15 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, Electronic Arts earned 39 cents per share.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 25 cents per share and revenue of $850.2 million.

Shares of Redwood City, California-based EA closed at $59.16 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik and Sai Sachin R in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)