August 6, 2015 / 8:13 PM / 2 years ago

FarmVille creator Zynga forecasts bookings below estimates

The Zynga logo is pictured at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014. The social games services provider is scheduled to report first quarter earnings. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O) forecast current-quarter bookings, a measure of future revenue, well below estimates, as the social gaming company expects to launch some games only in the fourth quarter.

Shares of the company, which reported lower-than-expected active monthly players for the second quarter, fell as much as 10 percent in after-market trading on Thursday.

The company, known for its “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars” games, said it would release its action-strategy games “Dawn of Titans” and “CSR2” in the fourth quarter.

“The fourth quarter is really going to be the one that determines Zynga’s fate, at least in the near term,” Barclays analyst Chris Merwin said.

Zynga, once one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing companies, suffered a dramatic reversal of fortunes in 2012 as gamers switched from the company’s Facebook-based desktop games to those played on mobile devices.

Founder Mark Pincus returned to the company in April, and has since then sharpened the company’s focus on releasing more mobile games and cutting costs.

Zynga has exited the sports games category and shut down several PC-based games. The winding down of games also weighed on third-quarter bookings forecast.

The company said it expected bookings of between $155 million and $170 million, well below the average analyst estimate of $180.1 million, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Zynga records the sale of virtual goods and downloads as deferred revenue, which is recognized as they are consumed. Bookings equal revenue recognized in a period plus the change in deferred revenue.

The company’s number of active monthly players fell to 83 million, while analysts had expected 98.4 million, according to FactSet.

Zynga posted higher-than-expected bookings of $174 million in the quarter as its new games such as “FarmVille: Harvest Swap” and “Empires & Allies” attracted gamers.

The company said on Thursday it signed a multi-year license agreement with Warner Bros for its “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” franchise for a slots game. The game is expected to launch in 2016.

Zynga’s net loss narrowed to $26.9 million, or 3 cents per share, in the second quarter from $62.5 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 30.5 percent to $199.9 million while research and marketing costs fell about 2.5 percent.

Up to Thursday’s close of $2.45, the shares had fallen about 8 percent this year.

Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Sriraj Kalluvila

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