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Don't settle for ordinary quarterly reports.
Every week, I take a look at three companies that beat market expectations, since I believe that it's the biggest factor in a stock beating the market. Leaving Wall Street's pros with stunned expressions can be a good thing. It usually means that the companies have more in the tank than analysts figured. Capital appreciation typically follows.
Let's take a look at a few companies that humbled the pros over the past few trading days.
We can start with Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA ) . Shares of the leading social gaming player soared 29% last week, surprising investors with an adjusted profit when the market was banking on a small deficit.
Things aren't perfect at Zynga. Revenue and bookings posted year-over-year declines. Daily active users, monthly active users, and unique visitors all dipped sequentially. However, the business of largely ad-supported casual games isn't dying as quickly as many worrywarts have feared. Rival Glu Mobile, which also reported on Tuesday -- came through with a narrower non-GAAP loss than the market was forecasting.
Outside of last week's rich rally, Zynga hasn't panned out as well as its partner Facebook. The top social networking website also delivered better-than-expected results a week earlier, but Facebook's actually growing nicely on the top line, too. Zynga will need to reverse the problematic bookings and audience trends to truly regain investor confidence. For a week at least, Zynga lived up to the hype that swelled just ahead of its late 2011 IPO.
LeapFrog Enterprises (UNKNOWN: LF.DL ) also leaped over analyst targets. The leading maker of electronic learning toys scored a profit of $0.60 a share during the telltale holiday quarter. Wall Street was settling for $0.49 a share. It was easy to see a strong report coming, as a few of LeapFrog's educational toys were among the season's hottest sellers.
Finally, we have Cytokinetics (NASDAQ: CYTK ) chiming in with a substantially smaller shortfall than the market was modeling. The small biotech -- whose lead drug candidate is a cardiac muscle contractility program that's in phase 2 clinical development for the potential treatment of heart failure -- posted a quarterly loss of $0.07 a share in its latest quarter. Analysts were targeting a deficit of $0.11 a share after a year-ago loss of $0.16 a share.
Cytokinetics still has a long way to go before it's profitable or before its lead candidate has a shot of hitting the market, but controlling cash burn is an important aspect of being a biotech start-up.
Moving in the right direction
It's important to keep watching the companies that surpass expectations. Over time, it will be a lucrative experience for investors as the market rewards the overachievers. That's the kind of surprise that we look for in the Rule Breakers newsletter service. Want in? Check out a 30-day trial subscription.
Zynga's post-IPO performance has been dreadful, and investors are beginning to wonder if it's "game over" for this newly public company. Being so closely tied to the world's largest social network can be a blessing and a curse. You can learn everything you need to know about Zynga and whether it's a buy or a sell in our new premium research report. Don't even think about picking up shares before you read what our top analysts have to say about Zynga. Click here to access your copy.