Updated from 4:49 p.m. EDT
loss widened in its first quarter, but both the company's bottom line and its sales topped the Street's expectations.
The video-game publisher estimated that sales would again exceed forecasts in its second quarter. However, despite its better-than-expected results, the company did not raise its full-year earnings expectations.
In an interview with
on Tuesday, EA CFO Warren Jenson attributed the company's upside in the just-completed quarter to strong sales of titles such as
FIFA World Cup
and an expansion pack for the
The Sims 2
The company declined to bump up its full-year earnings expectations, because it now plans to step up development of games for
DS handheld and its upcoming Wii console, Jenson said.
Additionally, incremental operating costs related to the company's
recent acquisition of online game maker
will weigh on EA's expected bottom line in coming quarters, he said.
Jenson said that another factor in the company's outlook is the industry's ongoing shift to a new generation of hardware, a move that has resulted in slowing sales and increasing development costs.
"We think the guidance is completely appropriate," Jenson said. "We're three months into a transition year. There's still a lot of uncertainty ahead of us."
Still, on balance, investors liked what they saw and heard. In recent after-hours trading, shares of EA were up $1.73, or 3.7%, to $48.25. Earlier in the after-hours session, the shares were up nearly 6%.
In the quarter ended June 30, EA lost $81 million, or 26 cents a share, on sales of $413 million. In the same period a year earlier, the company lost $58 million, or 19 cents a share, on revenue of $365 million.
A big part of the bottom-line difference was due to new accounting rules that now require companies to expense stock options. Excluding those and other costs such as restructuring expenses, EA would have lost $38 million, or 12 cents a share, compared with about $55 million, or 18 cents a share, in the same period last year.
On that basis, EA's results were considerably better than anticipated. The consensus view, according to Thomson First Call, was for a loss of 24 cents a share excluding options costs, on sales of $335 million.
forecast in May that it would lose 36 cents to 42 cents a share -- 22 cents to 28 cents a share excluding options charges -- on sales ranging from $300 million to $340 million.
For its second quarter, EA expects to lose 22 cents to 28 cents a share. Excluding options and other items, the company expects its bottom line to be break-even. The company forecasts sales of between $635 million and $685 million.
While the bottom line is slightly below the consensus estimate, the revenue is significantly higher. Analysts had previously forecast that the company would earn a penny a share -- excluding options costs -- in the current period on $628.4 million in sales.
In the same period last year, EA posted a profit of $51 million, or 16 cents a share, on $675 million in sales.
But EA essentially predicted that the rest of its year wouldn't be so good. Despite posting a lower-than-predicted loss in the first quarter, the company left in place its pro forma full-year earnings projection, which calls for a profit without items of between 35 cents and 65 cents a share.
On the revenue side, the company now expects to record full-year sales of $2.8 billion to $3 billion. That's up from a range of $2.7 billion to $2.95 billion it predicted in May.
But the increase is essentially accounted for by the upside the company saw in the just-completed period and the coming quarter, implying that the company expects sales to be either on plan or worse in the second half of its year.
For the full year, analysts were looking for a profit of 52 cents a share on $2.88 billion in sales. Last year, the company earned $236 million, or 75 cents a share, on $2.95 billion in sales.
EA's revenue in the just-completed quarter benefited particularly from sales of games for
Xbox 360 and titles for cellular handsets.
On the cell phone side, the company's sales totaled $33 million, up from $1 million a year earlier. EA
jump-started its mobile games business earlier this year by
, a leader in that market.
Meanwhile, the company sold $61 million Xbox 360 games in the first quarter; it sold no titles for the platform in the same period last year because it wasn't released
On a conference call, Jenson said that in terms of total sales of Xbox 360 games to date, the company is the No. 1 publisher on the platform in Europe and North America.
But the news wasn't all good on the Xbox 360 front. Although Microsoft has finally boosted shipments of the platform, EA's sales of Xbox 360 games declined sequentially for the second straight quarter.
The company saw $64 million in sales of Xbox 360 games in its fourth quarter last year and $76 million in its third quarter.
Meanwhile, sales of games for older game systems were expectedly poor. Revenue from games for
PlayStation 2 fell 15% year over year -- and a whopping 53% sequentially -- to $99 million.
Sales of games for the original Xbox fell to $23 million, down 48% year over year and 66% sequentially.
EA's stock closed regular trading on Tuesday off 59 cents, or 1.3%, to $46.52.