Buy EA shares because it is ‘building a Netflix for video games’: Needham

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Electronic Arts shares will rise due to the success of its subscription gaming services, according to one Wall Street firm.

Needham reiterated its buy rating for EA shares, saying its subscription business is already worth $3 billion to the company.

“We believe that EA is building a Netflix for video games,” analyst Laura Martin said in a note to clients Friday. “It is our view that millennials want to rent content (eg, Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Hulu) rather than own it, and that content companies with data about what their consumers view/play/use create valuation upside from programming, eCommerce, and advertising revenue streams.”

Martin raised her price target to $170 from $135 for EA shares, representing 19 percent upside from Thursday’s close.

The analyst noted the company announced a new, more expensive tier for its PC subscription gaming service called “Origin Access Premier” priced at $14.99 per month or $100 per year. The new tier enables consumers to play EA’s biggest games as they are launched.

She estimates EA currently has about 4 million subscribers for its $4.99 per month priced service, which allows gamers to play older games. Martin said the company’s subscription revenue for fiscal 2019 is worth $3 billion using Netflix’s valuation as a comparable.

“If EA’s new PC subscription service is successful, we expect EA to add a premium subscription tier for games played on Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox,” she said. “EA aggregates both its own games and 3rd parties’ (eg, Warner’s), and has lower content risk than NFLX because EA owns its IP (or has long-term exclusive contracts).”

EA shares fell slightly in early trading Friday.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this story.

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