Stock roller-coaster: EA up on buyout report; Facebook down; Cisco up

Today’s tech-stock high and lows:

Electronic Arts, which according to a New York Post report is considering a sale to a couple of private-equity giants that have approached it, is seeing its shares climb the most in six months.

Shares of the Redwood City video-game maker are up more than 5.75 percent to $13.85 as of this post after opening the trading session at $14.31. EA shares had closed at $13.09 Wednesday. Since the shares’ 52-week high of $25.20 in November, they have fallen steadily. They reached a low of $10.95 in July, but have been rising since the company reported mixed earnings at the end of July. (See (Not much) fun and games: EA and Zynga.)

In April, there was another rumor about an EA buyout, supposedly by an Asia-based video-game maker, which also boosted its shares at the time.

EA, the 30-year-old maker of popular console games such as the “Battlefield” series and “Sim City,” has been boosting its efforts in digital games, amid the rise of 5-year-old Zynga, the online social-games maker. EA COO Peter Moore told Reuters earlier this week that “it’s not far away” until digital revenue surpasses that of boxed games.

San Francisco-based Zynga has its troubles, though. Among other things, the company is feuding with Facebook over numbers, according to the Los Angeles Times: Zynga blamed fewer game players on Facebook when it reported a second-quarter loss last month; Facebook says game-playing actually rose 8 percent in the first six months of 2012.

The rest of the games industry is struggling, too. Video-game sales — hardware, software, accessories — fell in July for the eighth straight month, NPD Group reported last week.

Facebook shares have hit an all-time low as its first lockup period expired Thursday. As the Mercury News’ Jeremy Owens reports, the lockup expiration means 271.1 million shares owned by company executives and early investors became available for public trading, and shares fell as low as $19.69 this morning, breaking a record intraday low. The sell-0ff was expected.

The big lockup period expiration comes in November, when the rest of Facebook’s employees will be able to sell their shares for the first time.

Shares of the Menlo Park-based social network are off more than 5 percent to about $20.10 as of this post. Facebook went public in May at an opening price of $38.

Cisco Systems shares are climbing nearly 9 percent as of this post, to $18.85, after the San Jose networking company on Wednesday reported earnings that beat forecasts and issued a bright forecast. The usually cautious CEO John Chambers said the company saw an increase in corporate orders from the United States and Asia last month, according to the Merc’s Brandon Bailey. However, Chambers expressed concern about the European economy, and said it was “way too early to call [increased corporate spending on tech] a trend.” Still, Cisco is seen as a tech bellwether, and most tech stocks are higher today.


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