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EA Plans $1 Billion Buyback; 67 Percent of Sales Coming From Digital

Looks like digital really is the future for the Battlefield publisher.


Electronic Arts will buy back up to $1 billion of its shares from investors after it beat the Street yet again today, reporting a profit of $125 million, or 39 cents per share, on sales of $896 million. Wall Street was expecting earnings of 25 cents per share on sales of $850 million.

EA shares were trading up 4.4 percent after hours, to $61.75 — a 10-year high.

The quarter ending in March also marked the end of EA’s fiscal 2015, in which it had forecasted $4.25 billion in sales and $2.53 in per-share profit. It turned in $4.3 billion in sales and earnings of $2.59 per share.

In the next quarter, the company said it expects sales of $640 million, but has no new game launches announced, and expects earnings per share to be nil. In the fiscal year that started in April and ends in March 2016, it expects sales of $4.4 billion and earnings per share of $2.75. The most anticipated launch on the horizon is Star Wars: Battlefront, which will unite Disney’s mega-IP with the team that developed EA’s shooter series Battlefield (though not its most recent entry, Battlefield: Hardline); CFO Blake Jorgensen said on a call with investors that EA expects to sell 9 to 10 million copies of the game this year.

The big news from last quarter’s earnings report was that in the trailing year, EA’s sales on digital platforms like EA Origin and the App Store had narrowly eclipsed those in retail stores like Walmart and GameStop. In the fourth quarter, a whopping 67 percent of the company’s revenue, $602 million, came from digital sources. Packaged good sales were down 19 percent versus the same quarter last year.

Digitally delivered add-on content represented about 40 percent of those digital revenues, with mobile now marking nearly one-quarter of them, and 17 percent of the total. Full game downloads were flat year over year.

Almost all of EA’s $150 million in mobile revenues, 94 percent, came from free-to-play rather than paid-download games, Jorgensen said.

Sales on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 combined were up 23 percent versus the same quarter in 2014, from $305 million to $376 million, while sales on their predecessors, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, fell 33 percent in the same time frame, from $246 million to $164 million. PC game sales fell 17 percent, from $207 million to $172 million year over year.

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