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Analysts warn that Zynga may not find a path back to profitability

Analysts warn that Zynga may not find a path back to profitability

October 5, 2012 | By Mike Rose

October 5, 2012 | By Mike Rose
More: Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing

Following another disappointing financial quarter for social game behemoth Zynga, analysts have chimed in on the company's prospects, noting that Zynga's transition to mobile games has been "more painful than expected."

Colin Sebastian at Baird Equity Research has downgraded Zynga to "Neutral", stating that "it is clear that Zynga will not be able to counterbalance social gaming headwinds this year with its success in mobile and its broader network buildout."

He believes that Zynga's platform transition will now extend into 2013, meaning that ongoing realignment of resources, along with alterations to the company's products in development, is very necessary.

Sebastian had previously stated that his target price for Zynga shares was $6 -- he has now lowered that to $3, noting that while there is "limited downside from here" for the company, there are still far too many risks involved, including Zynga's reliance on Facebook.

Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schacter isn't so positive. He notes, "we don't see a floor on the horizon. Our concern has been and remains that while Zynga executed against its first mover advantage on the Facebook platform, off of the platform they are just one of many."

Zynga no longer has an advantage over any other developer, he says, and as more and more users continue to move from Facebook gaming to mobile gaming, Zynga will continue to struggle.

He warned investors against "bottom fishing" until there is actually proof that Zynga has a way back to profitability -- although he added that Macquarie is continuing to reiterate its Neutral rating for Zynga.

Michael Pachter, meanwhile, has lowered his target price estimate from $7 a share to $4, and his full year estimates for the company from $1.4 billion to $1.2 billion -- however, he is maintaining an Outperform rating regardless.

"While we would normally be inclined to downgrade the company’s shares due to a more difficult outlook," he adds, "we believe there is significant upside, so we concluded that only a price target revision is warranted."

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