Mobile-game specialist lands licensing deals for ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ games that help stock recover after earnings
Zynga Inc. reported a slight miss on its most widely watched sales metric and projected holiday results lower than analyst expectations Wednesday afternoon, but promised a brighter future with a slate of games based on popular intellectual property including “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter”.
The San Francisco mobile-gaming company reported net income of $10.2 million, or a penny a share, on revenue of $233.2 million, up from a loss of less than $1 million a year ago on revenue of $217 million. Analysts on average expected a GAAP loss of a penny a share. Bookings, Zynga‘s preferred metric that adds the net increase in deferred revenue to actual sales, came in at $248.9 million, slightly higher than Zynga’s forecast but lower than the average analyst forecast of $250.1 million, according to FactSet. Zynga blamed lower-than-expected net deferred revenue for that miss, explaining that the sales mix resulted in $15.6 million in deferred revenue gains after its forecast called for $30 million.
Zynga (ZNGA) shares fell more than 3% in immediate late trading after results were released, but eventually rebounded to end the after-hours session up 0.3%. The stock has declined 8.9% so far this year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 0.3%.
Zynga stressed the success of reaching its near-term margin goals earlier than expected and success in mobile ads in its announcement, but the turnaround was more likely influenced by details on a new slate of games based on licensed intellectual property. The company said it has reached a deal with HBO for two games based on the “Game of Thrones” franchise and with Warner Bros. for a “Harry Potter” themed game, with the first games from those deals expected in the second half of 2019.
That adds to an agreement Zynga struck with the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) in August to develop new “Star Wars” mobile games and a new game based on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” that is debuting this week.
In an interview with MarketWatch, Chief Executive Frank Gibeau said that Zynga expects to launch at least five new games next year and that Zynga’s work this year to land licenses for popular content “will pay off in future years very effectively.”
Most of that return is down the road, however, and Zynga’s forecast for the fourth quarter came in lighter than expected. Zynga projected a net loss of $2 million on bookings of $250 million for the holiday season, while analysts on average were expecting a GAAP profit of 2 cents a share on bookings of $268.4 million.
Azerion Announces Proposed Changes to its Supervisory Board
Since the start of 2022, Azerion has seen a period of significant transformation and growth including its listing on Euronext Amsterdam, the completed sale of the Youda card games portfolio and the recently announced placement of EUR 165 million of senior secured floating rate bonds.
Following their successful stewardship throughout this period, Azerion now announced the decision of Peter Tordoir (Chairman) and Derk Haank to step down from Azerion’s Supervisory Board. Both decisions to step down are expected to take effect as from the date of an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be convened as soon as is reasonably practicable to appoint the proposed new Supervisory Board members described below.
As Azerion prepares for the next stage of its growth plan and the business continues to scale into becoming one of Europe’s largest digital advertising and entertainment media platforms, Azerion welcomed Zafer Karataş and Wim de Pundert as proposed new Supervisory Board members. Further details relating to both proposed Supervisory Board members and the arrangements for the EGM are expected to be published shortly. A new Chairperson will be appointed by the Supervisory Board in due course.
Umut Akpinar, CEO of Azerion, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Tordoir and Derk Haank for their invaluable contribution to the success of Azerion and, in particular, during its initial phase as a listed company. We will be pleased to welcome Zafer Karataş and Wim de Pundert as new Supervisory Board members bringing additional commercial, industry and capital markets experience to the Board.”
Background on Proposed New Supervisory Board Members
Zafer Karataş brings extensive experience in Business Management, M&A, Reorganizations and Financial Audit. He is currently Chairman of the Board of technology company MeritGrup and a Supervisory board member of DVA Bilisim and Most Teknoloji.
Wim de Pundert has been active as an investor and entrepreneur since the early 1990s, including through the use of buy and build and market consolidation strategies. De Pundert founded HTP Investments, a shareholder of Azerion, together with Klaas Meertens. He is also a member of the supervisory board of Knaus Tabbert AG, a European manufacturer of caravans and mobile homes listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.
Entain Provides Update on Current Trading and FY23 Guidance
Entain plc has provided an update on current trading and FY 2023 guidance, as well as plans to update shareholders on the progress of ongoing actions to accelerate operational performance and drive shareholder value.
Post the summer, Online Net Gaming Revenue (NGR) has been mixed across the Group, but in aggregate, softer than anticipated. Q3 Online NGR growth is now expected to be up high single-digit percent, and down high single digit percent on a proforma basis. Key drivers include:
- Adverse sporting results impacting sports margins during September
- Group wide implementation of industry leading safer gambling measures and ongoing regulatory headwinds persisting longer than expected, particularly in the UK
- Slower growth than expected in Australia and Italy
- Good underlying Online growth (ex-regulatory impacts) as evidenced by further strong proforma growth in active customers across the quarter
- Strong performance from recent acquisitions, particularly SuperSport in Croatia
- Robust performance across Retail
BetMGM in the US continuing to perform well: on track to deliver positive EBITDA in the second half of 2023; FY2023 NGR at the upper end of $1.8-$2.0bn guidance; and the successful rollout of Single Account Single Wallet, as well as online sportsbook enhancements supporting strong start to the NFL season.
Entain now expect Group Online NGR for FY2023 to be up low double-digit percent with proforma NGR down low single digit percent. The company reiterate their expectations for FY2023 EBITDA to be in the range of £1.00bn-£1.05bn supported by robust operational controls.
Actions to Accelerate Operational Strategy and Performance
Over the last three years Entain has undergone a significant strategic transformation, improving the quality of earnings and aligning operations to ensure the Group is positioned as strongly as possible to deliver long term shareholder value.
Alongside the Q3 trading update on 2 November 2023, management will share more detail on how these actions are being implemented to accelerate performance and delivery, including:
- A comprehensive market review focusing on long-term sustainable organic growth
- The simplification of Group structures and operations to improve operational leverage and reduce costs
- A plan for the migration of acquired businesses on to the Group’s industry leading technology platform
- Optimising our capital allocation priorities
- Progress on delivery of the Group’s Online EBITDA margin target of 30%
Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, said: “We continue to see good underlying growth in our online business and are reiterating our EBITDA guidance for the year despite softer than expected revenue growth in Q3 and the ongoing roll-out of industry-leading safer gambling measures. We continue to attract more customers than ever before to enjoy our products and services. BetMGM remains on track to deliver positive EBITDA in H2 and a full year NGR performance at the top end of our expectations, and we are particularly excited about the product improvements that we are rolling out over the NFL season.
“We have made significant changes to the Group over the last three years. Our focus now is on accelerating the actions we are taking to drive sustainable organic growth, expand our margins, capitalise on the US opportunity and deliver long-term returns for our shareholders. We remain confident in our ability to deliver on the vast opportunities ahead of us, and look forward to sharing more detail about the changes that we are making alongside our Q3 trading update in November.”
Holland Casino Identifies New Groningen Casino Site
Holland Casino has chosen Business Park Ter Borch as the new location for its Groningen casino. Holland Casino selected the location at the gateway to Groningen for its accessibility and construction opportunities. Business park Ter Borch, on the edge of the municipality of Tynaarlo, offers Holland Casino the best opportunities to build a casino that meets the company’s architectural and sustainability requirements. Moreover, the location at the gateway to Groningen is easily accessible for guests and there is ample parking.
CEO Petra de Ruiter said: “We are happy that the decision has now been made. If the Tynaarlo municipal council is as enthusiastic as the board of Holland Casino, we can enter the period of planning and construction. I’m looking forward to that and especially to the moment when the new Holland Casino Groningen is open. That is not only good news for our guests, but also for our employees.
“They will soon be able to optimally welcome guests from a new building and offer the hospitality that can be expected from us.”
Spatial planning councilor Jurryt Vellinga of the municipality of Tynaarlo said: “The location makes sense because of the good accessibility and the space that the business park offers. For us it is a sign that the municipality of Tynaarlo and the region are still popular for companies. This location offers employment opportunities and is a great boost for tourism in our municipality.”
Attention has also been paid to the former Holland Casino location on Gedempte Kattendiep in Groningen. The casino was destroyed in a fire in 2017, with Holland Casino operating a temporary facility since 2018.
“Holland Casino offers the municipality of Groningen every cooperation to ensure that something beautiful comes back to the city center. We are grateful to everyone involved for all the cooperation and support we have received in recent years. We are very grateful to Groningen and Tynaarlo for the efforts made to find a suitable location,” Ms. de Ruiter said.
The new branch of Holland Casino, Holland Casino Groningen, is expected to open in 2027.
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