Zynga reported second-quarter earnings last night and promptly got crushed by 38% the following day. There were numerous points of weakness in the quarter, most of which validate my initial bearish thesis.
First off, revenue came in at $332 million, up 19% year over year. That may not sound too bad, but the online game portion of sales grew by just 10%. That represents major deceleration relative to the 27% online gaming growth last quarter, and the 51% before that. In the first quarter, Zynga was able to break the trend of bookings coming in below revenue, which spelled trouble for future revenue recognition. In the second quarter, the company resumed this predicament, with bookings falling 8% sequentially to $302 million.
Zynga cited three primary factors that adversely affected it in the quarter: declining user engagement in Web games, changes to Facebook's platform that emphasize new games over existing ones, and underperformance of the questionable Draw Something acquisition. This led Zynga to reduce its full-year 2012 guidance. Here's the history of how the guidance of its non-GAAP metrics has changed over the past three quarters:
|Bookings||$1.35 – $1.45 billion||$1.43 – $1.5 billion||$1.15 – $1.23 billion|
|Adjusted EBITDA||$390 – $440 million||$400 – $450 million||$180 – $250 million|
|Non-GAAP EPS||$0.24 – $0.28||$0.23 – $0.29||$0.04 – $0.09|
That's pretty gloomy any way you slice it. After raising its forecasts for bookings, adjusted EBITDA, and adjusted earnings per share, all three expectations are now coming crashing down. It's even worse when you consider the fact that for the prior two quarters, Zynga had said, "We expect that growth will be weighted toward the second half of the year."
Clearly, now there's not much to be optimistic about in the second half of the year.
The one tiny bright spot I found in the report was that the percentage of monthly unique payers, or MUPs, ticked up slightly to 2.1%. The company now estimates it has 4.1 million MUPs, up 16% sequentially from 3.5 million.
Zynga continues to aggressively expand into mobile, although it remains overly dependent on Facebook's platform. It's also planning to launch a foray into real-money gaming in international markets, which could be a potential boon if it executes well. For now, Zynga's successes remain largely up in the air, and all of the weaknesses outlined in my initial thesis have come to a head.
At the time of publication, Evan Niu owned shares of Apple and Walt Disney while The Motley Fool owned shares of Facebook, Walt Disney, Google, and Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and has written calls on Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Take-Two Interactive Software, Apple, Activision Blizzard, Google, and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard.