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Electronic Arts beats forecasts

Electronic Arts lost less than analysts expected in the fourth quarter.

After market close Thursday, the largest independent publisher of game software reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss of $11.8 million, or 9 cents per share, excluding special charges. First Call's survey of 13 analysts predicted a loss of 14 cents per share for Electronic Arts' fourth quarter ended March 31.

Shares of Electronic Arts traded at $54.92 in after-hours activity on the Island ECN, immediately following the release of quarterly results. Electronic Arts fell $1.53 to $54.52 in Thursday's regular trading ahead of the news.

Including goodwill write-downs and one-time charges, Electronic Arts lost $17.9 million, or 13 cents per share.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 4.4 percent year-over-year to $307.3 million. First Call consensus predicted revenue of $299.4 million.

Revenue excluding EA.com as well as royalties and sales that EA.com paid to its parent company was $294.41 million, up 2.5 percent from the year-ago period. EA.com revenue gained 88.3 percent to $12.84 million.

Game software makers have generally seen slow growth for the past couple of quarters as North American and European gamers waited for more shipments of Sony's PlayStation 2 console. Sony (NYSE: SNE) missed its early targets for PlayStation 2 volume outside of Japan.

"In spite of these shortages, which clearly impacted our fiscal year results, I am extremely pleased with the progress we made against our key strategic objectives," said Larry Probst, chairman and CEO of Electronic Arts.

Sony recently said it has caught up with its PlayStation 2 goals, for the most part. "As we look forward, we are excited about the market opportunity in the second half of 2001," Probst said. "We expect strong growth from PlayStation 2 and are encouraged by the current flow of hardware to the market.">