Zynga can be considered the single greatest social media failure among recent IPOs. The leading provider of games on Facebook has been unable to match the success of Farmville, its first hit. Facebook also ended its relationship with the gaming company in 2012, effectively limiting Zynga’s access to the social network’s 1 billion users and making it harder for the company to promote its games.
The company moved slowly into the mobile platform, and after it failed to create big hits of its own, it acquired popular titles such as Draw Something and Words With Friends. But new rivals like King Digital, maker of popular mobile game Candy Crush, continue to crowd the market. Similarly, traditional game companies like Electronic Arts have also begun to migrate their titles to mobile devices, challenging the social gaming company’s position.
The question is whether Zynga has enough demand for its products to support it as an independent public company. The company reported daily active users in the first quarter of 2014 were down nearly 50% to 28 million, compared to 52 million in the first quarter of 2013. Zynga lost $61 million in the first quarter of the year, against a profit of $4 million in the same period a year ago. Since early March, Zynga stock has dropped 45%, which while indicative of its troubles, also makes it a more attractive takeover target.
5. Alaska Air
Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) is one of the few remaining independent airlines in the United States that is not owned by one of the four larger carriers. Even larger airlines have been acquired: Northwest was bought by Delta, Continental merged with United and U.S. Airways joined with American Airlines. The recent consolidations in the industry have been successful, leading to significant cost cuts. Alaska Air, with its profits and customer service reputation, is the last real prize left.
There has been speculation that Delta might buy Alaska Air for its West Coast routes. The rumors have pushed Alaska Air shares higher.
Alaska Air is particularly strong in the busiest West Coast markets, especially in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Seattle. It has also begun to challenge carriers in East Coast markets, including several cities in Florida. Revenue and net income have risen steadily over the past five years. And Alaska Air often ranks highest in customer satisfaction among traditional carriers.
6. Russell Stover
Russell Stover is on the auction block. The third largest candy maker in America may sell for as much as $1 billion. Though once publicly traded, the company known for its boxes of assorted chocolates, is now privately held.
One of the rumored buyers is Hershey, which would use the acquisition to further increase the size of its chocolate business. With a market cap of $21.6 billion and revenue of $7.1 billion, Hershey would not have much trouble swallowing up Stover. According to estimates, Stover makes around $600 million in revenue with 10% operating margins.
However, the list of possible buyers is much longer than that. Large multinational food companies have shown an interest in chocolate companies. Kraft paid about $20.6 billion for Cadbury in 2010. Mars, which owns M&Ms and Milky Way, could also be interested. International food giant Nestlé would also almost certainly take a look at Stover. As is often the case in auctions, private equity companies will consider Stover to see whether they can get a better return than current management.