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EA Loses A Billion Despite Sales Increase, Sees Extended Hardware Cycle

by Rainier on May 5, 2009 @ 3:47 p.m. PDT

EA released its preliminary financial results for Q4 and fiscal year 2009. While sales were up 15% over the past year, its losses nearly doubled to a little over $1 billion. Franchises like FIFA 09, Madden NFL 09 and Need for Speed Undercover sold over 5 million copies, Spore surpassed 2 million units sold while its Q4 sales were driven by Skate 2, Rock Band 2, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Left 4 Dead, etc. During the investors conference call, EA CEO John Riccitiello stated that he expects the current hardware cycle to be extended, as indications are that there is no "rush" to develop new hardware.

GAAP net revenue for the fourth quarter was $860 million, down $267 million as compared with $1.13 billion for the prior year. During the quarter, EA had a net benefit of $251 million related to the recognition of deferred net revenue for certain online-enabled packaged goods games and digital content.

Non-GAAP net revenue was $609 million, as compared with $919 million for the prior year. Sales were driven by Skate 2, Rock Band 2, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Left 4 Dead and Need for Speed Undercover.

GAAP net loss for the quarter was $42 million, as compared with a net loss of $94 million for the prior year. Diluted loss per share was $0.13 as compared with diluted loss per share of $0.30 for the prior year.

Non-GAAP net loss was $120 million as compared with non-GAAP net income of $30 million a year ago. Non-GAAP diluted loss per share was $0.37 as compared with non-GAAP diluted earnings per share of $0.09 for the prior year.

"EA's strong cost actions in Q4 FY09 together with our investments in our digital service businesses will set us up for a stronger FY10," said John Riccitiello, Chief Executive Officer. "EA is well positioned with the right strategies in a growing industry."

"We remain vigilant on managing costs," said Eric Brown, Chief Financial Officer. "We are confirming our FY10 non-GAAP guidance and expect to show strong profit growth in the year ahead."

GAAP net revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009 was $4.212 billion, up 15 percent as compared with $3.665 billion for the prior year. The Company ended the year with $261 million in deferred net revenue from packaged goods and digital content - down $126M from a year ago.

Non-GAAP net revenue was $4.086 billion, up 2 percent as compared with $4.020 billion for the prior year.

GAAP net loss for the year was $1.088 billion as compared with a net loss of $454 million for the prior year. Diluted loss per share was $3.40 as compared with a diluted loss per share of $1.45 for the prior year. Fiscal 2009 GAAP results include a $368 million non-cash charge for goodwill impairment and a non-cash charge for tax valuation allowances consisting of $232 million related to deferred tax assets that existed as of the end of Fiscal 2008 plus an additional $134 million against deferred tax assets recorded during Fiscal 2009.

Non-GAAP net loss was $96 million as compared with net income of $339 million a year ago. Non-GAAP diluted loss per share was $0.30 as compared with diluted earnings per share of $1.06 for the prior year.

Trailing-twelve-month operating cash flow was $12 million as compared with $338 million a year ago. The Company ended the year with cash and short-term investments of $2.2 billion.

Fiscal 2009 Highlights

  • EA had 31 titles that sold more than one million copies in the year - as compared with 27 titles in the prior year.
  • FIFA 09, Madden NFL 09 and Need for Speed Undercover each sold over five million copies in the year.
  • EA Partners posted its strongest year ever driven by Rock Band, Rock Band 2 and Left 4 Dead. Rock Band, in partnership with MTX/Harmonix, was EA's highest revenue producing title during the fiscal year.
  • EA strengthened its portfolio by launching new games - SPORE, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Boom Blox, Mercenaries 2 and a slate of Hasbro games.
  • SPORE sold over two million copies with users generating more than 100 million creatures.
  • EA generated 14% of its total non-GAAP revenue on the Wii - as compared with 8% a year ago. EA to ship EA SPORTS Active in May and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in June. Also in June, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 10 and EA SPORTS Grand Slam Tennis - both bundled with the Wii MotionPlus accessory (Tennis bundle available in Europe only).
  • EA's non-GAAP digital services revenue, which includes online and wireless, was $429 million in fiscal 2009, up 27% year-over-year.
  • Pogo achieved an all-time high of 1.8M paying subscribers for the fiscal year.
  • EA recently launched the open beta of EA SPORTS FIFA Online 2 in China --the Company's first online game in China.
  • EA Mobile, the world's leading publisher of games for wireless, delivered non-GAAP revenue of $189 million for fiscal 2009 - up 24 percent year-over-year.

The following forward-looking statements, as well as those made above, reflect expectations as of May 5, 2009. Results may be materially different and are affected by many factors, including: development delays on EA's products; competition in the industry; the health of the economy in the U.S. and abroad and the related impact on discretionary consumer spending; changes in anticipated costs; expected savings and impact on EA's operations of the Company's cost reduction plan; consumer demand for console hardware and the ability of the console manufacturers to produce an adequate supply of consoles to meet that demand; changes in foreign exchange rates; the financial impact of potential future acquisitions by EA; the popular appeal of EA's products; EA's effective tax rate; and other factors detailed in this release and in EA's annual and quarterly SEC filings.

Deferred Revenue Recognition for Online-Enabled Games

The Company also announced today that, beginning in fiscal 2010, it will defer revenue on a GAAP-only basis for every online-enabled game. Historically, the Company was deferring revenue for a subset of console and PC games. As a result, the Company expects to defer an additional $500 million of revenue out of fiscal 2010 into fiscal 2011 on a GAAP basis. This change will impact the Company's previously provided GAAP guidance for fiscal 2010, but will have no impact on fiscal 2010 non-GAAP revenue, non-GAAP EPS or cash flows.

The Company confirmed its fiscal year 2010 non-GAAP guidance and updated its fiscal 2010 GAAP guidance for the additional revenue deferral for online-enabled games.

  • GAAP net revenue is expected to be between $3.7 and $3.85 billion.
  • Non-GAAP net revenue is expected to be approximately $4.3 billion.
  • GAAP diluted loss per share is expected to be between $0.85 and $1.45.
  • Non-GAAP diluted earnings per share are expected to be approximately $1.00.
  • For purposes of calculating fiscal year 2010 GAAP loss per share, the Company estimates a share count of 323 million and for non-GAAP EPS, the Company estimates a share count of 325 million.
  • Expected non-GAAP net income excludes the following items from expected GAAP net income:
  • $450 to $600 million for the impact of the change in deferred net revenue (packaged goods and digital content),
  • $185 million of estimated stock-based compensation,
  • $55 million of amortization of intangible assets,
  • $25 to $35 million of restructuring charges, and
  • ($82) to ($117) million in the difference between the Company's GAAP and non-GAAP tax expenses.

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