Electronic Arts' Earnings Surge

Electronic Arts Inc. said Wednesday that its fiscal third-quarter profit soared 89% and revenue jumped 48%, bolstered by a slate of blockbuster video game sequels.

Earnings for the period ended Dec. 31 rose to $250 million, or $1.69 a share, from $132.3 million, or 92 cents, a year earlier. Sales increased to $1.23 billion -- the company's first billion-dollar quarter -- from $832.9 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson First Call had expected profit of $1.57 a share.

The company, which ended 2002 with nearly $1.2 billion in cash, also said it had filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell as much as $2 billion in stock, which would give it immediate access to more than $3 billion in cash. President John Riccitiello downplayed the move, calling it a "technical filing" to give EA flexibility.

The move unnerved investors, who pushed down EA shares in after-hours trading to $49.42. Shares were up 20 cents at $50.97 on Nasdaq before the financial release.

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