Online gaming stock Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) has had a tough row to hoe since its December 2011 IPO. And while shares of Zynga stock are up more than 40% in 2013, investors shouldn’t expect Zynga earnings to send the stock to new heights.

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A lot of optimism in Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) lately has come from the poaching of Xbox executive Don Mattrick from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to replace founder Mark Pincus at the helm, coupled with hopes that efforts to get into “real” gambling instead of just video game poker will lead to a brand-new revenue stream and significant growth.

But both of these items are long on hope and short on real facts.

Zynga 2Q13 earnings preview

Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is expected to book a wider loss than a year ago when it reports second quarter earnings on Thursday, July 25, 2013.

Analysts are projecting Zynga to take a loss of seven cents per share, even more than a year ago when it reported a loss of six cents per share.

The consensus estimate remains unchanged over the past month, but it has decreased from three months ago when it was a loss of four cents. For the fiscal year, analysts are expecting a loss of 17 cents per share. A year after being $332 million, analysts expect revenue to fall 44% year-over-year to $185 million for the quarter. For the year, revenue is projected to come in at $819 million.

In April, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) badly missed earnings as it told Wall Street, “We continue to expect non-linear, uneven results.” While there is $1.3 billion in the bank for Zynga to play with, that kind of pressure doesn’t indicate a lot of patience from investors to figure things out

This is not to say that the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) executive can’t succeed at Zynga, it’s just that past successes don’t really count for much in the current situation. And it’s worth noting that the company is propping up profitability where it can, including a round of layoffs several weeks ago.

Zynga’s challenges include a continued lack of profitability

But if you own the stock, going into Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) earnings, you should be realistic about the risk of a decline.

Early on, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s troubles stemmed from issues with its FarmVille empire on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) declining as more users have moved to the mobile experience, as well as a broader question of transparency after continued accounting problems forced the restatement of Zynga’s profits.

Now, the company’s challenges include a continued lack of profitability, stagnant top-line revenue and questions about what comes next.