Shares of Electronic Arts Inc. EA were up 7.7% in the aftermarket session following better-than-expected fourth quarter fiscal 2016 results driven by growing digital revenues and continued strength in Star Wars Battlefront sales. The company sold 14 million units of Battlefront in the fiscal year.
Back to numbers, both adjusted earnings (including stock-based compensation expense but excluding all other non-recurring items) of 38 cents and non GAAP revenues of $924 million easily topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 30 cents and $886.4 million, respectively.
On a non-GAAP basis, the company reported earnings per share of 50 cents a share, up against the prior-year quarter’s earnings of 39 cents a share.
Non-GAAP Digital revenues (77% of revenues) jumped 18.3% to $712 million while revenues from EA’s Packaging goods and other segment (23% of total revenue) decreased 27.9% to $212 million.
Further segregating digital revenues, Full game downloads revenues were up 18% to $134 million while EA mobile games increased 15% year over year to $173 million backed by Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Madden NFL. Revenues from subscriptions, advertising and other were up 4% to $95 million and extra content revenues grew 26% to $310 million driven by FIFA Ultimate Team.
EA reported non-GAAP gross margin of 77%, 200 bps higher year over year and 90 bps higher than management’s guidance. Operating margin was 23% compared with 18% reported in the prior year quarter.
Balance Sheet and Cash Flow
EA exited fiscal 2016 with $3.8 billion in cash and short-term investments compared with $3 billion as of Mar 31, 2015. Operating cash flow was $1.223 billion at the end of the fiscal year compared with $1.067 billion in the year-ago quarter. Capex for the year was $93 million while free cash flow was $1.13 billion
During the quarter, the company repurchased 9.9 million shares for $634 million. It repurchased 15.7 million shares for $1 billion in the fiscal year.
EA provided guidance for the first quarter and fiscal 2017. For the first quarter, the company expects non-GAAP revenues of $640 million, 8% lower than the prior-year quarter revenues due to tougher year over year comparisons with Battlefield Hardline and a one-time recognition of FIFA Online 3 revenues from China. The company projected non-GAAP loss per share of 5 cents, as against earnings of 15 cents reported in the prior-year quarter.
For fiscal 2016, EA expects to generate non-GAAP revenues of approximately $4.9 billion, up 7% year over year driven by a strong pipeline of new releases namely Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Non-GAAP earnings are expected to be $3.50 per share, 11% higher year over year. Gross margin and operating margin is expected to be 72.5% and 29.7%, respectively. Cash flow is expected to be $1.3 billion while free cash flow is likely to be $1.2 billion.
Segment wise, Digital revenues are expected grow 15% to $2.9 billion and Packaged revenues are expected to be $2 billion, marginally less than fiscal 2016 levels.
Zacks Rank &Stocks to Consider
Currently, EA has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the tech space include Hasbro Inc. HAS, Facebook Inc FB and DST Systems Inc. DST. All the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
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