EA reports loss, record full-year revenues

Company reports 27 million-selling titles in past year, lays claim to top publisher title in Europe, North America.

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The growth of the gaming industry as a whole means publishers are posting bigger numbers than ever, and a wave of consolidation is only going to further inflate those totals. Electronic Arts is a prime example, having been the largest third-party publisher in the world even before last year's high-profile acquisition of developers BioWare and Pandemic, or the ongoing attempt at a Take-Two takeover.

EA today announced its full-year results for the 12 months ended March 31, and the company again laid claim to a number of titles, including the number one publisher across all platforms in both North America (where it claimed a 19 percent market share) and Europe (20 percent). EA also touted its position as the biggest third-party publisher of Wii games in Europe, making up 15 percent of the market there as opposed to just 7 percent in the previous year.

Counting sales from all regions, EA said it had 27 titles reach the million-sold milestone during the year, with 15 of those going on to break the 2 million barrier. In the previous year, EA had 24 million-sellers, with 10 titles going double platinum.

For the full year, EA posted net revenues of $3.67 billion, up 19 percent from the previous 12 months. However, due in part to the change in its accounting practices that caused a nearly $300 million hit to its second-quarter revenues, EA posted a net loss for the year of $454 million, compared to the previous year's bottom-line profit of $76 million.

For the fourth quarter alone, EA sales surged 84 percent year over year to $1.13 billion, up from $613 million for the same period the year before. In a conference call with investors, the publisher attributed the boost to strong sales from new releases like Burnout Paradise (1.5 million copies) and Army of Two (1.8 million copies), as well as continued sales of Rock Band (1.5 million copies in the January-March quarter alone).

For the current fiscal year (ending March 31, 2009), Electronic Arts is expecting revenues between $4.9 billion and $5.15 billion, with a return to profitability on earnings per share between $.25 and $.52.

As of press time, Electronic Arts were up more than 1 percent to $55.15 in after-hours trading.

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