Analyst: Zynga CEO Body Language and Mood Brings Caution

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Zynga Inc. (NASDAQ: ZNGA) is having a bad Thursday, and perhaps the reason is that CEO Don Mattrick has signaled a much less upbeat version of the company’s turnaround. Mattrick recently presented at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2014 Global Technology Conference this week, and the body language may have just been a bit tame.

We have yet to see any analyst report out of Merrill Lynch, but the team there has an Underperform rating on Zynga. Apparently the presentation is not going to sway that rating.

Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia has a Neutral rating on Zynga. He said Thursday morning that Zynga suffers from a lack of visibility on the company’s product pipeline. He also thinks that investor expectations were likely not that high going into the presentation, but Mattrick did not provide any color on the pipeline for the back half. On the recently launched title Farmville 2 on mobile, all that was really indicated was that it was “off to a good start.”

Bhatia’s real take was that Mattrick’s overall message Wednesday was less upbeat than in the past. Also, an evasiveness on the product pipeline has likely added to investor worries.

Bhatia said:

Don is normally quite upbeat and we think yesterday’s presentation seemed slightly less upbeat. This is important given 1) a very big part of the investor thesis on ZNGA is Don successfully turning around the company; and 2) there is very limited visibility on the product pipeline.

Zynga shares were down more than 9% at $2.95 in very active trading Thursday morning. After just two hours of trading, a whopping 61 million shares had traded hands — twice a normal day’s volume.

Zynga has traded in a range of $2.50 to $5.89 over the past 52-weeks. Its market cap is still $2.6 billion. Zynga does have more than $1.2 billion in cash and long-term securities on the books, but that is down from about $1.5 billion a quarter earlier.

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