EA plans stock split as earnings spike 50%

Company has net income of $77 mil for quarter

SAN FRANCISCO — Spurred by strong sales of “Madden NFL 2004” and other sports titles, Electronic Arts, the nation’s biggest vidgame developer, reported an increase in net income of more than 50% in the quarter, and also announced a stock split.

Redwood City, Calif.-based company, which recently opened a studio in L.A., had net income of $77 million, up 52% over the same quarter a year ago, with diluted earnings of 50¢ a share. Net revenue was $530 million for the quarter, the second on EA’s fiscal calendar, a 17% increase.

Sporting sales

EA continued to top sales on all consoles, with its “Madden NFL 2004” ruling the sports gaming market with 3.6 million sales in the quarter. Other top sellers included “NCAA Football,” “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004” and “NASCAR Thunder 2004.”

In addition to strong sales, company’s revenue was aided by currency fluctuations in international markets, which added $14 million to its bottom line.

With EA’s stock at more than $100, having doubled since the beginning of the year, company is implementing a two-for-one stock split effective Nov. 17.

Holiday helper

Looking to the crucial holiday season, CEO Larry Probst said the lineup is the strongest in EA history, pointing to titles based on the final “Lord of the Rings” film and “Harry Potter.”

EA is predicting net revenue of better than $1.425 billion in the fourth quarter, with earnings per share between $2.30 and $2.40.

Results were released after markets closed, but investors seemed skittish during the day, with EA shares down more than 2% to $101.94.

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