Electronic Arts (EA) shares rose on Tuesday, after closing at the highest level in nearly four months on Monday, as analysts cited the surprising success of its "Apex Legends" multi-player combat game.
The new free-to-play battle royale game, released only last week, already has more than 25 million registered users, with a peak of 2 million concurrent players recorded over the weekend, the game's developer, Respawn Entertainment, said late Monday. The hugely successful 'Fortnite' franchise, by contrast, took nearly two weeks to reach the 10 million registered player mark.
"The immediate success of the surprise launch of Apex Legends from EA's Respawn might end up being more important to the stock over the long term than guidance for a lackluster 4Q," said BMO Capital Markets Gerrick Johnson in a recent client note. "EA now has a solid entry into the battle royale genre that is generating a lot of buzz and dominating Twitch viewership since release."
EA shares gained 45.2% to close at $102.33 in Tuesday's trading.
Investors have used success of Apex Legends to sharply re-price EA shares after it reported disappointing fourth quarter earnings of 86 cents a share last week, well shy of the Street consensus of $1.94, as revenues slipped to $1.3 billion, thanks in part to underperforming games such as Battlefield V. EA's full year sales guidance of $4.9 billion also missed analysts' forecasts.
Rival gamemaker Activision Blizzard (ATVI) will publish fourth quarter earnings at the close of trading Tuesday, with analysts expecting the maker of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch to report adjusted earnings-per-share of $1.28 revenues of just over $3 billion.