Zynga Inc (ZNGA) Earnings: Will Farmville 2 Surprise Investors?

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Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is set to release its latest earnings report after the closing bell tomorrow, and analysts at Sterne Agee believe the report will be in line with the company’s guidance. They’ll be focusing on a few areas in the report when it’s released. First, they want to see how Zynga did on its cost-cutting plan, which included shutting down 11 of its games.

Second, they want to see how the Farmville 2 monetization is going, and third, they want to see if the company bought back any of its shares during the fourth quarter. Zynga had authorized a $200 million buyback of its stock.

In a report issued to investors this morning, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) analysts said Farmville 2, which came out in September, “could be a source of slight positive surprise going forward.” However, they also say that Zynga will likely have been “negatively impacted by restructuring changes.”  They also said that App data indicates that fourth quarter daily average users in the “invest and express” category of games seem to have “increased sequentially (by 14 percent), driven by Farmville 2”.

During the company’s third quarter investor call, it indicated that it planned to launch four mobile games and two web-based games within each quarter over the next year, so investors should receive an update on those plans.

Analysts remind investors that the relationship between Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) ends in March, so the company becomes “just another partner on Facebook, compared to its special status previously.” Sterne Agee analysts believe this break “will lead to higher acquisition cost per customer” for Zynga, a cost that will be reflected in its sales and marketing.

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