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Zynga Beats Estimates as It Lures Facebook Users

Thursday, 26 April 2012 06:28 PM

Zynga Inc., the biggest developer of games for social-networking sites, beat analysts’ first-quarter revenue estimates, suggesting that the Zynga.com gaming portal helped lessen dependence on Facebook Inc.

Sales rose 32 percent to $321 million, the San Francisco-based company said Thursday in a statement. That topped the average $315.9 million analyst estimate, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit excluding some items was 6 cents a share, more than the 5-cent estimate.

Zynga, which raised $1 billion in a December initial public offering, has sought to reduce its reliance on Facebook by creating a new site for social games and paying $180 million for mobile app maker OMGPop Inc. The company may see its biggest growth on mobile devices like Apple Inc.’s iPhone and on Zynga.com, said Atul Bagga, analyst at Lazard Capital Markets.

“The company could be well positioned on mobile given its large user base on mobile, its expertise in running free-to-play games, and its understanding of user behavior,” Bagga said in a research note this month. “We are also optimistic around the company’s platform strategy, which we believe could help reduce both use of third-party platforms and content risk.”

Zynga gained in late trading, after climbing 3.4 percent to $9.42 at the close in New York. The stock has fallen 5.8 percent since it started trading on Dec. 16.

Bookings Revenue

Bookings, or the total value of virtual goods sold, were $329.2 million, up 15 percent from the first quarter of 2011. Zynga’s reported revenue includes virtual items sold prior to the quarter and amortized over their expected life.

The company raised its full-year 2012 bookings forecast to $1.43 billion to $1.5 billion, up from a February projection of $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion.

Zynga also said it anticipates 2012 earnings excluding some items of 23 cents to 29 cents a share, compared with a prior range of 24 cents to 28 cents.

Earlier this week, Facebook said 11 percent of its $1.06 billion in first-quarter revenue came from Zynga. Facebook, which takes a 30 percent cut from purchases of virtual goods within Zynga games, is expected to hold an IPO this year.

The gaming hub Zynga.com debuted in March.

Zynga owns the six most popular games played on Facebook, according to AppData. CityVille, with 41.6 million monthly users and Texas HoldEm Poker, with 37.3 million users, top the social gaming charts. Draw Something, which Zynga acquired through its March purchase of OMGPop, is in third with 36 million users.

The company expects to spend hundreds of millions of dollars acquiring game developers over the next three to five years, Chief Executive Officer Mark Pincus told Bloomberg in an interview this month.

Zynga sold 49.5 million shares in a secondary offering of its shares on April 3. The terms of the share sale required the sellers, including Pincus, to agree to a longer lockup period that keeps them from unloading additional shares until as late as August, according to a filing.

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Thursday, 26 April 2012 06:28 PM
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