10/6/2012 : ZYNGA SINKS ANOTHER 12 PERCENT
Social gaming giant's cut in FY performance expectations drives the share price down further
Online social gaming giant Zynga, which has ambitions in the real money online gambling market, suffered another serious drop in share price this week following an announcement cutting its forecast for full-year bookings.
The latest drop, of 12 percent, exacerbates a dismal performance that has seen the embattled San Francisco-based company lose three-quarters of its value since its much-hyped IPO last December.
Zynga also wrote down its acquisition of OMGPop and sliced its forecast for a measure of profit.
Reuters news service reported Saturday that the market will be watching closely to see what CEO Mark Pincus (46) will do next as enthusiasm for the company's stock declines and analysts slash their price targets on a stock that has plunged as much as 22 percent, to $2.21 – more than three-quarters off its $10 debut.
Analysts are calling for a downsize in the 3,000 person staffing levels and the development of better and more mobile-oriented games, which is the direction in which the market is heading. Zynga has been widely assessed as being weak in this critical segment.
Pincus appears to have recognised the imperative; on Thursday, he emphasised to employees in a company-wide memo that Zynga would be "continuing to invest in its mobile games business," but cautioned that the company will make "targeted cost reductions."
Analysts interpreted that to include layoffs as Pincus shifts Zynga away from the "casual" Facebook games that were the company's staple for years.
"They have banked on the casual gaming segment, and to readjust the business to more core gaming, some casual heads probably have to roll," P.J. McNealy, CEO of Digital World Research, told Reuters.
The company's current games accounted for 83 percent of total revenue last year, but times are changing as the mobile revolution increasingly takes hold in key demographics.
On the positive side, monthly-paying players rose to 4.1 million in the second quarter from 3.5 million, although analysts claim that number would have declined had it not been for new players attracted to "Draw Something," which Zynga purchased in March for $183 million.
Other positives are shrinking, but still substantial revenues, and Zynga's strong cash position which amounts to roughly $1.6 billion.
Investors have also been spooked by a slew of executive departures over the past few months and this continued Friday, with the creators of top Zynga game "Words with Friends" joining the management exodus.
Zynga's virtual currency poker offering has continued to prosper, contributing 18 percent of the company’s $332.4 million revenue last quarter, behind "FarmVille," which brought in about 29 percent.
Pincus has real money online gambling ambitions, at present focused on Europe due to the political antipathy toward internet gambling that presently holds back the business in the United States.
He is on recent record as promising that real money products would be launched overseas in the first half of 2013.
This week RocketPlay, a creator of social sports-betting games, announced the launch of Sports Casino, a social sports-betting title on Facebook and Zynga.com.
Along with the game's release, RocketPlay confirmed its partnership with Zynga to bring Sports Casino to the 306 million monthly active players on Zynga's network of games across Facebook and other platforms.