Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) stock plunged from $90 to below $80 in early February after the video-game publisher reported third-quarter numbers which fell well short of expectations and included a big reduction of the company’s full-year guidance. I quickly responded to that selloff, calling it a gross overreaction to temporarily bad numbers, and said that it was a golden opportunity to buy EA stock, which would be a winner over the long-term.
Since then, EA stock has staged a huge comeback. EA stock quickly retook the $80 level. Then, it took back the $90 level just two trading days later. One trading day after that, Electronic Arts stock took out the $100 level and hit $105. In other words, in the three trading days following its big post-earnings selloff, EA stock rallied more than 30%.
Why the surge? A game called Apex Legends. Long story short, battle-royale game Fortnite went viral in 2018, denting the traditional video-game oligarchy of Electronic Arts, Take-Two (NASDAQ:TTWO), and Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI). But EA just launched its battle royale answer to Fornite – Apex Legends – and this new game has gone parabolic.
The adoption of the game has been absurd and unprecedented. Analysts are ringing the bull horn. EA stock has rallied.
This rally of EA stock has legs. Not only does Apex Legends have the potential to enable the company’s 2019 and 2020 results to beat consensus expectations, but the rest of the games that EA is set to launch in 2019 and 2020 aren’t too bad, either. In fact, they’re quite good, and there’s reason to believe that the next twelve months could be very positive for EA.
The price of EA stock doesn’t reflect that type of outlook. Therefore, the rally of EA stock should persist.
EA Should Do Well Over the Long-Term
EA is coming off a really bad quarter.
The most important game the company released in the holiday quarter, Battlefield V, was delayed by a month and didn’t perform well against stiff competition from Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2. The company’s most important new mobile game, Command & Conquer: Rivals, didn’t perform up to par, either, as it was unable to really become one of the best-performing mobile titles. FIFA, EA’s new soccer game, also didn’t live up to investors’ expectations., and EA didn’t too well in Asia, either.
Overall, it was a bad quarter for EA. Investors were fearful that those bad numbers were a sign of the times. The video-game industry has been red-hot for a long time. Now it’s normalizing lower, and will remain weaker for longer. This belief, along with bad holiday numbers, caused investors to sell Electronic Arts stock.
But their outlook is flawed.
In the big picture, EA’s trends are still attractive. It has a tailwind from micro-transactions, which is still alive and well. eSports, which is just starting to come into its own, remains a positive catalyst. Plus, digital engagement continues to rise. And augmented reality and virtual reality are becoming mainstream in the video-game sector. Those technologies will inevitably spark a demand surge throughout this whole industry.
EA is at the epicenter of all of those positive trends. That’s why I said the company’s bad holiday numbers were largely forgettable in the big picture, and why I recommended buying EA stock on its post-earnings dip.
The Next 12 Months Could Be Really Good for EA Stock
Over the past week, it has become increasingly clear that EA’s bad holiday-quarter numbers were an outlier that won’t last long. Indeed, they might not even last past this month.
Largely thanks to Apex Legends, EA’s near-term outlook is dramatically improving. Adoption rates for EA’s new battle-royale game have been nothing short of absurd. The game eclipsed 25 million players in a week. It took Fortnite nearly six weeks to hit 20 million players, even though it was the hottest video game in all of 2018. Thus, Apex Legends is taking the hottest video-game trend of 2018 and making it hotter.
The strength of Apex Legends more than overrides the weakness of Battlefield V last quarter. Indeed, considering what Fornite did in 2018, this Apex Legends tailwind could last for all of 2019, providing a persistent, strong lift to EA’s numbers for the whole year.
Beyond Apex, it appears that the games which EA is slated to launch during the rest of the year are also very promising. Anthem, set to debut this month, is generating a fair amount of buzz, and is the exact type of shooter/action game that should do well in today’s environment. Firestorm, the battle royale mode of Battlefield V, is set to launch next month. Considering the robust success of Apex Legends, Firestorm should make some serious noise.
On a recent conference call, EA said that FIFA 20 will have some “significant new features”, and those new features could be the exact catalyst that are needed to reinvigorate the franchise’s growth. Perhaps most exciting, EA is slated to launch a new Star Wars game at the same time that Disney (NYSE:DIS) unveils a new Star Wars movie, and the movie could drum up a great deal of interest in the game.
Overall, the next twelve months could actually be pretty good for EA. That is quite contrary to what Electronic Arts stock is saying. EA stock trades at just $98 today, versus a high of $150 not too long ago. So, as long as this company’s 2019-2020 lineup continues to impress investors, EA stock should stay in rally mode.
The Bottom Line on EA Stock
The recent weakness of Electronic Arts stock is a gross overreaction to temporarily bad numbers. Those numbers will get better in 2019 and 2020, thanks to the stunning success of Apex Legends, the rollout of the battle royale mode of Battlefield V, and a new Star Wars game. As those numbers get better, EA stock will continue to rebound.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long EA, ATVI, and DIS.