Ahead of the publisher's January 31st Q3 results, Janco analyst Mike Hickey has said recent Electronic Arts share underperformance could be coming from the specter of potential product delays, predicting the highly anticipated Spore
could be moved from March/April into the second half of 2008.
While Hickey says Janco expects Q3 results to be in line with EA's guidance, the company's "recent share under-performance (closed at 52 week low yesterday) would suggest a potential shortfall... or guidance gimp."
Hickey says that in the current market climate, companies that perform 'only' in-line with expectations are susceptible to damage, as well as those with "conservative tone from management on future performance."
"Additional share pressure could be coming from potential high profile product delays including Spore
," notes Hickey, "which we now expect in [the second half of 2008], versus management guidance for March/April."
EA has previously been quite firm on a spring release date for the game, first noting in May
that it likely would see release between January and June of 2008, and then in August that it was being
"squarely targeted at March, April, or May".
Hickey adds, however, that despite other recent delays, including Army of Two
, EA has managed to exceed expectations, and likely will not make major revisions to 2008 guidance.
Hickey remains bullish on the company's future, saying he expecting its legacy franchises to continue to perform well, and is optimistic on its new IP, including Spore
and Warhammer Online
, also predicting that its EA Partner properties like Rock Band
and Orange Box
to make up some $350 million of its Q3 sales, some 10 percent of its guidance.