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EA Beats Big, Plans $750 Million Buyback

EPS of 48 cents versus analyst-expected 11 cents.

Electronic Arts thoroughly beat the Street in the fourth quarter of 2014, with earnings per share of 48 cents versus analyst expectations of 11 cents and non-GAAP net revenue of $914 million, above an expected $812 million, the company reported today. In fiscal year 2014, it grossed $4 billion and made 1.69 EPS, also above expectations.

EA also announced that it will buy back up to $750 million worth of common stock between now and May 2016. The company raised its guidance for fiscal year 2015 to earnings per share of $1.85 versus a previously expected $1.52 EPS. Share prices spiked up 15 percent in after-hours trading.

Total revenue was down 12 percent year over year, but the company said its games represented 40 percent of all software sales on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in the “Western World.”

In Q4, EA’s non-GAAP net revenue for packaged goods totaled $350 million, while digital content accounted for $550 million. This mostly continues a trend I highlighted in a graph this morning, and I’ve updated that graph below. This fiscal year’s Q4 was the first in six years that both revenue streams declined:

The dip appears to have been driven by a decline in game subscription and advertising revenue, with mobile, handheld and downloadable content intake up year over year. Full game downloads on console and PC, driven by Battlefield 4 and the company’s big new game Titanfall, were up 13 percent.

Titanfall, an exclusive to Xbox consoles and Windows, sold 925,000 copies at U.S. retail in March. Although EA no longer breaks out individual consoles by their share of revenue, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 combined represented a third of all net revenue, despite having a combined install base of fewer than 12 million units worldwide.

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