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Zynga ‘preannounces’ weak earnings again for third quarter

Zynga CEO Marc Pincus.[/caption]

Zynga ‘preannounced’ weaker than expected financial results for its third quarter that ended Sept. 30.

Mark Pincus, the chief executive of the San Francisco social gaming giant, said in a press statement and memo to employees that the company was weak in the “invest and express” category of games, or the Ville genre of games.

He said the company expects to report revenue of $300 million to $305 million in the quarter and a net loss of $90 million to $105 million (on a non-GAAP basis, the loss will be $2 million to $5 million). The company’s stock price has fallen 18 percent in after-hours trading.

After Zynga reported lower-than-expected results in the second quarter, Zynga’s stock fell 40 percent in a day. In the wake of that report, Zynga has lost a number of executives, including chief operating officer John Schappert. The stock is now at $2.82 a share, far below its initial public offering price last fall of $10 a share.

Adjusted earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortization will be $10 million to $15 million. Bookings will be $250 million to $255 million. Zynga expects a loss in earnings per share of 12 cents to 14 cents, and non-GAAP EPS of break-even to 1 cent a share loss. Zynga will take a charge of $85 million to $95 million related to writing off intangible assets acquired with the purpose of Draw Something publisher OMGPOP.

Zynga is also lowering its outlook for the full 2012 year ending Dec. 31. The reduced expectations are because of lower than expected results for The Ville and delays in launching several new games. For the full year, Zynga expects bookings of $1.085 billion to $1.1 billion, lower than the previous expectation of $1.15 billion to $1.225 billion. Adjusted EBITDA is expected to be $147 million to $162 million, versus previous expectations of $180 million to $250 million.

Overall, Zynga has 311 million monthly active users on Zynga.com, Facebook, and mobile platforms.

“The third quarter of 2012 continued to be challenging and, while many of our games performed to plan, as a whole we did not execute to our satisfaction,” said Pincus. “We’re addressing these near-term challenges by implementing targeted cost reductions in the fourth quarter and rationalizing our product R&D pipeline to reflect our strategic priorities.”

He added, “At the same time, we are continuing to invest in our mobile business where we have one of the strongest positions in the industry. These actions support our strategy to transition from being a first-party web game developer to a multiplatform game network. “

Pincus also said, “We remain optimistic about the opportunity for social gaming and the power of our player network of 311 million monthly active users. When we offer our players highly engaging content, they respond. FarmVille2 has been our most successful launch since CastleVille in terms of daily bookings, and we now offer three of the top five most popular mobile games in the U.S. in terms of time spent according to Nielsen.”

Zynga will report its earnings on Oct. 24. Zynga has said it is transforming itself into a multiplatform company and that will take some time to accomplish. For now, Zynga is more than 90-percent dependent on Facebook. But a relatively small percentage of the players pay real money for virtual goods in Zynga’s free-to-play game.


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