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Take a pass on Electronic Arts, says Roth

EA stock

Weaker than expected quarterly results and lowered guidance have Roth Capital Partners analyst Eric Handler reducing his outlook on gaming giant Electronic Arts (Electronic Arts Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NASDAQ:EA). In a Wednesday update to clients, Handler reiterated a “Neutral” rating while dropping his target price from $131 to $112 per share, representing a projected one-year return of negative 13 per cent.

Electronic Arts, which has titles such as FIFA, Madden NFL and Apex Legends, announced on Tuesday its third quarter fiscal 2023 financials for the period ended December 31, 2022. The company reported $1.881 billion in net revenue, up from $1.789 billion a year earlier, and net income of $204 million compared to $66 million for the same time a year earlier. Net bookings for the quarter were down one per cent year-over-year to $7.146 billion.

The company said the current macro environment was a drain on the Q3 results.

“As market uncertainty mounted during the quarter, we took measures to protect underlying profitability,” said Chris Suh, CFO, in a press release. “We are prioritizing the player experience, directing investment to where it can have the most positive impact for our players and on growth.”

Looking at the results, Handler said bookings at $2.342 billion were down nine per cent and below his forecast at $2.510 billion and the consensus estimate at $2.482 billion. Meanwhile, EPS at $2.80 per share was down 13 per cent year-over-year and also under Handler’s call at $3.08 and the Street at $3.05 per share.

The analyst said strength in EA’s FIFA title was more than offset by underperformance from Apex Legends and new releases. The company is also dealing with a delay in the schedule for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which is now projected to come out in the first quarter 2024 instead of fourth quarter 2023, resulting in an impact of about $300 million, according to Handler. 

“EA is undergoing a bit of a restructuring as it re-evaluates its games portfolio and tightens expenses, but execution is in question with FY23 guidance being lowered for a second consecutive quarter. Its efforts are also unlikely to produce a quick fix,” Handler wrote.

“The year should benefit from the shift of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and modest growth from FIFA (being renamed as EA FC) and Madden, but will likely be partially offset due to the shuttering of Apex Legends for Mobile and Battlefield for Mobile along with ongoing weakness with the broader mobile portfolio,” he said.

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