Zynga Loses Less, Books More

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Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) reported third quarter 2013 results after markets closed on Thursday. The social media game company posted an adjusted earnings per share (EPS) loss of $0.02 and revenues of $202.58 million. In the same period a year ago, Zynga reported an EPS loss of zero on revenues of $316.64 million. Bookings totaled $152 million in the quarter compared with $255.61 million in the year-ago quarter. Third-quarter results compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for an EPS loss of $0.04 and $142.67 billion in revenues. In Zynga’s case, revenue estimates are compared with the company’s reported bookings, which represent the total of revenues and deferred revenues.

Online game revenue was down 39% year-over-year and 14% sequentially. Advertising revenue was down 9% from last year, but up 3% sequentially. Deferred revenue totaled $50.47 million in the quarter, somewhat better than the $61.03 million in the same period a year ago.

For the fourth quarter, Zynga forecast revenue in the range of $175 to $185 million. Adjusted EPS loss is projected at $0.04 to $0.05, worse than the consensus estimate of $0.03. Bookings are projected at $130 to $140 million, which is below the consensus estimate for revenues of $147.85 million.

The company’s new CEO, Don Mattick, said:

I am pleased with our Q3 performance which exceeded our guidance both in terms of bookings and adjusted EBITDA. We are encouraged to see sightlines to growth and expect to be profitable for the full year on an adjusted EBITDA basis

The huge change in Zynga’s performance was its net loss of just $68,000 in the third quarter compared with a net loss of $52.73 million in the third quarter of 2012. User counts are mostly lower although the users that stick around are spending more. Zynga reported that average daily bookings per average daily active user rose 17% year-over-year and 4% sequentially. The number is still quite small, just $0.055, and it is multiplied by a daily active user base of 30 million, half the size of the base a year ago.

The better-than-expected EPS performance and the rise in bookings will push Zynga’s shares higher as investors finally have something to cheer about.

After closing down about 3% at $3.54 against a 52-week trading range of $2.09 to $4.03, shares have added 13.7% in after-hours trading and the share price is up to the 52-week high. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $3.20 before today’s report.