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Electronic Arts posts $24 million profit

First-quarter revenue up $79 million; profits rise $5.6 million versus fiscal Q1 2003; and $3.4 billion annual income predicted.


Now, in the not-so-shocking-news department... Electronic Arts is still making money. Lots of it. As has become the ritual every three months, the Redwood Shores, California-based game behemoth has released its quarterly earnings report. And, comme habitude, the company has seen its profits beat analysts' expectations.

For the first quarter of its 2005 fiscal year (April to June 2004), the world's biggest third-party publisher posted a net profit of $24 million ($0.08 per share), up $5.6 million from the $18.4 million it earned during the same period in 2003. Overall, revenue rose 22 percent from $353 million to $432 million, above the $418.9 million analysts surveyed by Reuters had predicted.

Behind the robust sales figures were a series of chart-topping titles. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Fight Night 2004, and UEFA Euro 2004 each sold more than a million copies during the quarter. Backing them up were several perennial best-sellers, most notably Need for Speed Underground. Since its release last fall, the import-racer has been a fixture in the top 10 console game list, and it has now sold more than 7 million copies.

"We are off to a great start in our new fiscal year," said Larry Probst, EA's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We received five Game Critics Awards for Best of E3--a record for any company--and three of our first-quarter releases went platinum."

While the numbers are from EA's past quarter, they are only a fraction of the company's projected earnings for its second fiscal quarter (July 2004 to September 2004). The company predicts it will take in $680 million to $715 million during those three months, thanks to two EA Sports cash cows--the just-released NCAA Football 2005 and Madden NFL 2005.

"NCAA Football's week one sales are tracking over 50 percent ahead of last year, and Madden NFL's preorders are at record levels," said Probst in a press release. Later, speaking to analysts in a conference call, he said Madden orders were already double what they were last year, thanks to the game's newfound Xbox Live support. Probst also brushed off the challenge presented by the discounted and well-reviewed ESPN NFL 2K5. "We'll see if that $19.99 price point moves the needle for Sega," he said, but did admit, "More people this year will buy two football games."

For its entire 2005 fiscal year, EA is predicting between $3.3 and $3.4 billion in revenues--up 12 to 15 percent over FY 2004--with between $2.00 and $2.10 in earnings per share.

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