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EA shares jump on digital optimism

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Electronic Arts reached their highest point in more than four years Wednesday as the video game publisher's first-quarter results topped Wall Street's expectations.

THE SPARK: Electronic Arts Inc., which is behind popular game franchises such as "Madden" and "Battlefield," earned 71 cents per share for the April through June period. Stripping out stock-based compensation and other expenses, the Redwood City, Calif. company lost 40 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted a bigger loss of 60 cents per share.

Revenue totaled $949 million. Electronic Arts said late Tuesday that adjusted revenue, which accounts for deferred revenue and expenses from games with online components, was $495 million. Wall Street was looking for $453.5 million in revenue.

THE ANALYSIS: Doug Creutz of Cowen and Co. said in a client note that Electronic Arts quarterly results were driven by expense-control efforts and strong digital revenue.

Adjusted digital revenue, which includes game downloads, climbed 30 percent to $103 million.

Creutz pointed out that while mobile revenue rose 30 percent, smartphone and tablet revenue surged 73 percent — now making up nearly 90 percent of total mobile revenue.

The analyst said quarterly expenses of $477 million were well below the company's $530 million forecast.

Creutz said that Electronic Arts is still his top overall investment idea. The analyst maintained an "Outperform" rating and $31 price target.

The company would not comment on the report.

SHARE ACTION: Up $2.01, or 8.5 percent, to $25.84 in morning trading. The shares touched $26.40 earlier in the session, the highest level since October 2008. For the year to date, the stock is up 64 percent.