Electronic Arts lifts annual profit forecast on 'FC 24' strength

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[1/2]A smartphone with the Electronic Arts logo is seen in front of a displayed character from the Battlefield 2042 game in this illustration taken September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration Acquire Licensing Rights

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Electronic Arts (EA.O) on Wednesday beat analysts' estimates for quarterly net bookings and profit and raised its annual earnings projection, betting that its revamped soccer franchise "FC 24" would help maintain the momentum in its sports videogame unit.

Shares of the company rose nearly 5% in extended trading.

EA said "FC 24", its first soccer game without the "FIFA" branding in nearly three decades, had more than 14.5 million active accounts within the first four weeks of launch.

The mobile version of the game was installed by more than 11 million people in the first 10 days, CEO Andrew Wilson said on a post-earnings call, pointing to its popularity.

The success of the franchise is crucial as it accounts for a large chunk of the company's revenue. EA has tried to boost the appeal of the game with new features including HyperMotion V that uses data from real footage to program in-game movements.

The title was the third-highest-selling game in September behind "Mortal Kombat 1" and "Starfield", according to research firm Circana. EA's "Madden NFL 24" was placed fourth.

The company said it now expected earnings per share of between $4.10 and $4.66 for the year ending in March, compared with its previous forecast of $3.42 to $3.92.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said he expected the company to meet its profit targets due to minimal marketing spend on "FC 24."

The results also bode well for the wider gaming sector amid concerns that high-interest rates and an uncertain economic outlook could impact demand for video games.

EA reported a 4% rise in net bookings to $1.82 billion for the September quarter. That was higher than the estimates of $1.78 billion, according to LSEG data. Adjusted profit of $1.46 per share also beat estimates of $1.25.

Reporting by Zaheer Kachwala and Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Anil D'Silva

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