Shares of Zynga Inc. jumped 5% to a three-year high in morning trade Friday, after Morgan Stanley turned bullish on the mobile games company for the first time, citing increasing optimism over the company's "live services" business, which includes poker. Analyst Brian Nowak raised his rating to overweight from equal weight, and boosted his stock price target to $4.50, which is 20% above current levels, from $3.00. Nowak said he is "bullish" on the live services business "as it is driving increased engagement and monetization." And while Poker makes up only 19% of Zynga's revenue, Nowak said he expects the company to roll out new offerings across its suite of games, a strategy that he's seen work well in the console gaming business. The stock has run up 46% year to date to the highest level seen since May 13, 2014, while the S&P 500 has gained 9.1%. Nowak said that while Zynga's stock has already had a strong year, "we don't think we've missed the opportunity, but rather this is the beginning of a multi-year turnaround and stronger business model."
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