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Electronic Arts sticks to 2013 outlook, sets buyback

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electronic Arts Inc, publisher of the "Battlefield" and "Star Wars" games, stuck to a forecast for about 30 percent growth in fiscal 2013 earnings and announced a $500 million share buyback, helping to prop up its shares.
/ Source: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Electronic Arts Inc, publisher of the "Battlefield" and "Star Wars" games, stuck to a forecast for about 30 percent growth in fiscal 2013 earnings and announced a $500 million share buyback, helping to prop up its shares.

The stock was trading at around $11.30 in after-hours trade, from a close of $11.02 on the Nasdaq.

Electronic Arts, which has also been trying to expand its mobile and online gaming business, said on Tuesday its net digital revenue jumped 37 percent in the fiscal first quarter.

For the three months ended June 30, the company posted overall revenue of $491 million, compared with $524 million a year ago. Net income dropped to $201 million, or 63 cents per share, compared with $221 million, or 66 cents per share a year ago.

Excluding certain items, it recorded a loss of 41 cents a share, beating by a penny an average forecast for a 42-cent loss, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

For fiscal 2013, Electronic Arts, which battles Activision Blizzard Inc and other publishers for a slice of a decelerating video games market, reaffirmed its outlook for earnings excluding items of $1.05 to $1.20 per share.

Publishers are struggling to sustain revenue growth as gamers migrate steadily to casual and social games online or on mobile devices. On Tuesday, EA announced it would offer a free-to-play option of its "Star Wars: The Old Republic" game, hoping to staunch gamer losses.

(Reporting By Malathi Nayak; Editing by Bernard Orr)