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Zynga is expected to report a profit for the fourth-quarter in its first-ever quarter financial report after the market closes on Tuesday.
The largest publisher of social games on Facebook is expected to report a profit of 3 cents a share, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Revenues are expected to be $302.4 million, up 54 percent from $195.8 million a year ago.
Zynga has been launching one social or mobile game after another in the past few months. The company now has 246.3 million monthly active users on Facebook, compared with 230 million when the company went public on Dec. 15. Zynga’s newest game, Hidden Chronicles, is a big hit with more than 29.6 million monthly active users. Thanks to that game’s success, Zynga once again has the top five social games on Facebook.
The company is trading under the symbol ZNGA. The company’s stock price opened at $10 a share and then fell immediately after the IPO. But after Facebook filed for an IPO earlier this month, Zynga’s stock climbed quickly and closed on Monday at $13.42 a share, well above the 12-month targets of several analysts who follow the company closely.
Arvind Bhatia, an analyst with Sterne Agee, wrote in a research report on Monday that Zynga’s stock is overvalued with its market capitalization at $9.38 billion. The company faces stiff competition on Facebook from Electronic Arts, Wooga, King.com, Disney-Playdom and a host of others. Zynga has also moved into mobile games but faces an even bigger array of rivals there.
The bears on Zynga say that its cost of acquiring new users is rising and its competition is heating up. They say that Zynga’s growth will slow as Facebook hits a wall. But the bulls such as Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities say that Zynga has a lot of opportunity to expand as it diversifies beyond Facebook, moves into mobile, and grows its advertising revenue, which is a mere 5 percent of the company’s revenues. Almost all of Zynga’s money comes from Facebook games and most of its revenues are generated by virtual goods purchases.
Zynga has been active. Last week, it announced that toymaker Hasbro would produce co-branded toys based on Zynga’s most popular games and game characters. As we chronicled in our 25,000-word history of the company, Zynga has come a long way since Pincus founded the company as Presidio Media on April 19, 2007. At the time, Pincus wanted to jump on the Facebook bandwagon, as that company took its shot at beating rival network MySpace by inviting third parties to make applications to run on the Facebook platform. Now the company has a huge share of the fast-growing market on Facebook, accounting for 12 percent of Facebook’s revenue.
More recently, Zynga took a lot of flak for copying others’ games. That prompted Mark Pincus, chief executive of the company, to tell us in an interview that the company is pioneering a new wave of games not by copying others but by making games easier to play and more social.
In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Zynga reported net income of $12.5 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, down 54 percent from $27 million a year ago