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EA: Quality up, but Q309 earnings 'below' expectations

This is one case where the phrase "lipstick on a pig" is quite accurate: in trying to dress up his company's disappointing Q3 earnings, for the period ended December 31, 2008, EA CEO John Riccitiello is quick to point out that despite a holiday quarter that "came in below" expectations, the company "delivered on game quality and innovation in calendar 2008." In other words, game quality is good while sales ... not so much. We're seeing a pattern.

Net loss for the quarter was $641 million, $150 million below street estimates and far from last year's $33 million loss in the same period. While much of the performance can be attributed to macro economic situations (read: the crappy economy), EA admits that a "significant proportion relates to our own performance." So, getting operations in line with revenue is an important step – to that end, EA will be laying off 11% of its workforce (up from the previously announced 10%) and closing 12 facilities – "resulting in approximately $500 million of operating expense reductions in fiscal 2010 as compared with our previous plans," said EA CFO Eric Brown.

EA seems eager to give up on fiscal '09 altogether, pushing the year's three remaining titles – Sims 3, Godfather II, and Dragon Age – into the next fiscal year, while announcing a litany of new sequels, a new Wii-centric focus, and a new marketing strategy. Maybe next year will be more lipstick, less pig, eh? But EA's still got another ugly Q4 to struggle through. Chin up, big guy.

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