Zygna's (NASDAQ: ZNGA) recently reported second-quarter earnings suggest that its turnaround effort is finding success, with the company delivering its first profitable quarter since Q4 2012 and some promising developments for its mobile business. Revenue came in 15% higher year over year, while net income was up $9.5 million over the prior-year period -- and both sales and earnings came in ahead of targets. Here's how Zynga's second-quarter performance stacked up compared to the company's guidance:
Read on for a deeper look at Zynga's second quarter and five of the most important takeaways from the company's August 2 earnings call, with quotes courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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The mobile transition is proceeding well
Zynga used to derive the large majority of its sales from games played on web-browser portals like Facebook, however this model collapsed as casual video games transitioned to mobile apps and Facebook instituted policy changes that hurt Zynga's offerings. Revenues are down roughly 40% from five years ago, but Zynga has been making progress on building up its mobile business and the second quarter delivered best-ever results in the category. Here's CEO Frank Gibeau on the company's improving daily active users (DAU) stats, payer conversion, and other key metrics on mobile:
While in-game purchases from the company's mobile games saw a record quarter, revenues from in-game advertising were down 1% year over year (even following the acquisition of Harpan's ad-based solitaire games) due to a 15% sales decline for Words With Friends. Daily active users on the company's web-based games were down 32% year over year, but declines in these areas were more than offset by mobile-purchase gains.
Zynga has a new "forever franchise"
Zynga is focused on creating and maintaining games that have long-term staying power -- what it calls "forever franchises." When a game can be sustained for years through cost-efficient updates, it opens up hugely profitable revenue streams, and the company appears to have a new franchise it can count on.
The first CSR Racing released in 2012 and was followed by a sequel that released in June 2016. Following a strong performance for CSR Racing 2 last quarter, Zynga is confident that it has a new forever franchise on its hands. Here's Frank Gibeau on the game's performance:
Gibeau later added that CSR 2, along with Zynga Poker, was one of the the biggest momentum drivers for the company's second-quarter user growth and that new features for the title will launch later this year.
Efficiency is improving
Efforts to trim costs and boost productivity are at the center of Zynga's comeback strategy under Gibeau, and the company is working on ways to improve efficiency outside of simply maximizing sales from its existing catalog of games.
In addition to these initiatives, the company will also begin to generate revenue from some of its real estate holdings. Zynga has been steadily trimming its workforce since 2012, which has freed up space at its San Francisco headquarters.
The company has entered into a 9-year deal with Airbnb to lease 287,000 square feet in its HQ building's east tower. The lease will begin in the first quarter of 2018, and Gibeau stated that the company plans to pursue additional leasing deals as it reduces its footprint within the building.
Zynga cancelled a mobile Mafia Wars game
Zynga was developing a new installment in the Mafia Wars series for mobile, but ultimately cancelled the project when it saw disappointing results from the game's test audience. Here's Gibeau on the decision not to move forward with the game:
While news of the cancellation is disappointing, Zynga says that it has adapted at least three or four technologies from the shuttered game for use in other titles.
Zynga sees potential in augmented reality
Augmented reality (AR) has already broken into the mainstream with hit products including Nintendo's Pokemon Go and video filters on platforms owned by Facebook and Snap, and it looks like Zynga might have some big opportunities with the emerging technology. Gibeau stated that there could soon be some exciting announcements from hardware companies in the space and made clear that Zynga is exploring opportunities in AR:
With the challenging competitive landscape for in-game mobile advertising already weighing on Zynga's ad business, finding ways to benefit from new formats like AR could be a source of significant momentum, and it's encouraging to hear that the company is working on a strategies for a technology that looks to have serious breakout potential.
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