Pre/post earnings: EA, Amazon, AOL

• Yes, it all seems so long ago, but it’s now time for video-game makers to reflect on what the holidays meant to them. For EA, MarketWatch says the key thing to watch is whether “Star Wars” and other new releases delivered as the Redwood City company reports third-quarter results after the markets close today. Average analyst estimates are 93 cents a share profit on $1.62 billion in revenue, compared with 59 cents a share and $1.4 billion in sales in the year-ago period. Shares of Electronic Arts took a hit a couple of weeks ago after an NPD Group report that video-game sales fell 21 percent in December from the same period a year ago. (See Post-holiday report on video games: EA shares sink, Zynga rises.) Shares are off less than 1 percent to about $18.50 as of this post.

• By many accounts — its maker provides no concrete numbers — the Kindle Fire is hot. But Amazon’s spending is also on fire. So shares are tanking today, the day after the world’s largest online retailer reported that its fourth-quarter profit fell 58 percent despite a 35 percent rise in sales — which fell short of analysts’ expectations. Besides spending on its tablet, the Seattle company is reportedly also investing in warehouses and other technology. Amazon also issued a forecast that’s lower than what analysts were expecting. After falling nearly 9 percent in after-hours trading Tuesday, Amazon shares are off more than 9 percent to about $176.65 as of this post.

• AOL shares are surging, up more than 14.5 percent to about $18.60 as of this post, after its earnings beat expectations today on improved ad sales. The tech-turned-media company posted a profit of 23 cents a share, a 66 percent drop that nevertheless beat analysts’ estimate of 16 cents a share, on revenue of $576.8 million. CEO Tim Armstrong told Bloomberg “you’re seeing the long-term benefit of the operational changes of the company,” including the fact that AOL’s workforce has been cut in half in the past couple of years — during which AOL bought TechCrunch and the Huffington Post. (See Eyeball fight: Silicon Valley’s stake in the AOL deal to buy Huffington Post.) Google and Yahoo, which also depend on ads, both missed expectations when they recently reported earnings.


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