Zynga Plasters Revenue Estimate, Shares Climb

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Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) closed up 7% ahead of earnings today, following a rating change to Buy from analysts at BofA/Merrill Lynch. Now we have the earnings, and the fourth quarter’s results were $0.01 in adjusted earnings per share (EPS) and revenues of $311.16 million. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Zynga reported an EPS loss of $1.22 on revenues of $311.24 million. Bookings totaled $261.27 million in the quarter and $1.15 billion for the full year. The Thomson Reuters estimates called for an EPS loss of $0.03 in the fourth quarter and $212.1 million in revenue.

For the full year, Zynga posted adjusted EPS of $0.07 on revenues of $1.28 billion, compared with 2011 EPS of $0.24 on revenues of $1.14 billion. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $0.03 on revenues of $1.1 billion.

On a GAAP basis, Zynga reported a quarterly adjusted EPS loss of $0.06 and a full-year EPS loss of $0.28.

The company’s CEO said:

The biggest highlight of the quarter was seeing our team deliver a successful sequel in FarmVille2 … . In 2013 we’re excited to bring this new class of social games to mobile phones and tablets and build a network that offers an easier, better way for people to play together.

The company’s outlook for the first quarter projects revenue in the range of $255 to $265 million and a net EPS loss of $0.02 to $0.04. Adjusted EPS is expected show a loss of $0.04 or $0.05. The consensus estimate for the first quarter calls for an EPS loss of $0.01 on revenues of $240.03 million.

Zynga laid off staff and warned on earnings in October, and announced a $200 million share buyback at the same time. Today’s massive revenue beat and far better-than-expected EPS could be slightly offset by the weaker-than-expected EPS guidance.

After closing up 7% at $2.74 against a 52-week trading range of $2.09 to $15.91, shares have added another 6.2% to $2.91 in after-hours trading. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $3.50 before today’s report.

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