Zynga’s Earnings and User Growth Higher Than Expected

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Zynga’s


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[ZNGA  Loading…      ()   ] earnings, revenue, and user growth all came in slightly higher than expected.

The company reported non-GAAP EPS of 6 cents for the quarter, a penny more than projected.

The company’s closely-watched “bookings” – a measure of users commitments to spend—was a record $ 329 million, up 15 percent from the year ago quarter, and higher than expected. Revenue also came in higher than projected and 32 percent higher than last year.

(Click here for Zynga’s after-hours quotes)

Perhaps more important are the social and mobile game maker’s user numbers. Daily active users grew 6 percent year-over-year to 65 million in the first quarter, five million more than Wall Street expected. Monthly active users and monthly active uniques grew 24 percent and 25 percent over last year respectively.

The big question though: how much are gamers spending to play? The number of monthly unique payers increased to 3.5 million in the first quarter of the year—up 21 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. And average daily bookings per average daily users increased to $ .055, up 8 percent year over year, but a tenth of a penny less than Wall Street expected.

And the company is cautious in its growth projections for the rest of the year, warning to expect slower sequential growth in the first half of the year, with the pace picking up in the second half of the year. The company projects full year EPS in the 23 cent to 29 cent rage, but Wall Street’s consensus projection is 27 cents—so this looks a bit light.

Zynga is focused on showing that it’s not just reliant on Facebook—pointing to the strong bookings from its mobile games, noting that ‘Words with Friends’ became the number one free game app of all time on the Apple


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    ()   ] platform. And now the company is looking to the Zynga platform – a destination for social games—as an engine of future growth. But in its forward statements the company notes that Facebook’s changes or changes in Zynga’s relationship with Facebook could materially impact the company’s ability to monetize its games. We can expect Zynga’s relationship with Zynga to be a hot topic on the conference call.

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Starbucks Profit Beats the Street but Shares Fall

Starbucks reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts’ expectations, but its shares were trading lower in after-hours trading on Thursday. Click here for the latest Starbucks quote.

The global coffee chain


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    ()   ] delivered second-quarter earnings excluding items of 40 cents per share, up from 34 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue was $ 3.2 billion, an increase from $ 2.79 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 39 cents per share on revenue of $ 3.18 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

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Amazon Earnings Blow Past Forecasts; Shares Rise

Published: Thursday, 26 Apr 2012 | 4:37 PM ET

Amazon.com reported quarterly earnings that blew past Wall Street’s expectations on Thursday, sending its shares higher in extended-hours trading.

Amazon.com

After the earnings announcement, the Internet retailer’s


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[AMZN  Loading…      ()   ] shares rose 9 percent in trading after the closing bell. (Click here to get the latest quotes for Amazon.)

The company posted first-quarter earnings excluding items of 28 cents per share, down from 44 cents a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue rose 34 percent to $ 13.2 billion, from $ 9.86 billion a year ago.

Analysts had expected the company to report earnings excluding items of 7 cents a share on $ 12.90 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

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Jobless Claims Raise Concerns About Job-Market Recovery

The uptick in weekly jobless claims during April is raising concerns the job market’s progress may be slowing down.

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Jobless claims were reported at 388,000 Thursday and with revisions, the four-week moving average rose by 6,250 to 381,750, its highest level since the week ending Jan. 7.

“It’s a setback. It doesn’t mean the expansion is over. It doesn’t mean that firms are getting into a cost-cutting mode. It just means there’s been a little uptick with the rate of layoffs. It’s still consistent with job growth,” said Jonathan Basile, economist at Credit Suisse.

Jobless claims have been elevated in the 380,000 area for three weeks now but economists say it’s too soon to say whether it’s anything more than a seasonal setback, where employers are making up for extra hiring done earlier in the year because of the warm winter weather.

“It’s a little concerning certainly,” said Michael Feroli, J.P. Morgan economist. “I think with each passing week that you’re in the 380,000 area makes it a little harder to dismiss.”

The March employment report showed that nonfarm payroll employment rose by just 120,000, well below expectations and half the level of jobs created in February. January nonfarm payroll growth was 275,000 after a revision. Now, it’s likely the consensus estimate for April, which calls for 175,000 jobs added, is going to come down.

“We’re probably in the ballpark of 150,000,” Feroli said of the April jobs report, which is due out next week. He expects the unemployment rate to be unchanged at 8.2 percent.

“I think it’s still too soon to totally dismiss this,” Feroli said of the claims data. “It could be a seasonal issue. Holiday impact is still playing a part. So, I think it’s kind of hard to say what the new trend is.”

Basile said the claims data make it unlikely the April trends matched the 200,000-plus job growth of earlier in the year.

“We have a huge hole to fill in the labor market. To fill it quickly would feel better if we had payroll prints that were over 200,000. You’re sort of sliding back and if claims are suggesting that, it doesn’t feel as good. It raises a concern about a slowdown — not a lot — but it raises it because this is the one indicator that is almost in real time,” said Basile.

“It tracks the business cycle. It gives you the pulse of what’s going on in the economy pretty much every week. Of course you’ve got to smooth it out,” he said. For that reason, economists give more credence to the four-week moving average, which is also elevated.

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Murdoch Blames Underlings for Hacking ‘Cover-Up’

Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire media tycoon, admitted that there had been a “cover-up” at defunct tabloid News of the World over phone hacking in London, but maintained on Thursday that neither he nor his son James knew about the extent of hacking.

Rupert Murdoch

Speaking to the Leveson Inquiry, Murdoch aimed blame at a number of subordinates for the cover-up, and made disparaging comments about several former News International editors who have criticized him.

There was more tension in the air than during Wednesday’s questioning, which many felt was rather a damp squib after the drama of Tuesday’s revelations about the closeness of the current UK government to the Murdochs.

Murdoch told the inquiry into media ethics: “There is no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up which we were victim to and I regret.”

With wife Wendi and son Lachlan watching he said that he, his son James and other senior News Corp


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[NWSA  Loading…      ()   ] executives were “misinformed and shielded” about the extent of phone hacking at the tabloid. He also blamed “a clever lawyer” at News International for stopping people coming forward and admitted that the culture had left too much in the hands of the editor and lawyer.

“I should have gone there and thrown all the lawyers out of the place and seen Mr Goodman (the reporter jailed over phone hacking) one-on-one – he had been an employee for a long time – and cross-examined him myself and made up my mind, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly, was he telling the truth,” Murdoch told the court.

“And if I had come to the conclusion that he was telling the truth, I would have torn the place apart and we wouldn’t be here today.”

Lord Leveson, the judge leading the inquiry, described Murdoch’s approach to allegations of blackmail by News of the World reporters as “disturbing.”

‘Myths’ Dismissed

The allegations stem from an incident involving former Formula 1 boss Max Mosley, who was photographed in an orgy. Two of the women involved were said to have been offered to have their faces pixelated out of pictures in return for giving more details about the sado-masochistic party.

“It is a common thing in life, way beyond journalism, for people to say, ‘I will scratch your back if you scratch my back’,” Murdoch said.

Colin Myler, the former editor of the News of the World, and Tom Crone, its former head of legal affairs, have both contradicted James Murdoch’s testimony about when he was told that phone hacking went beyond one rogue reporter.

Passages from the memoirs of ex-Murdoch editors Andrew Neil, now a BBC presenter, and Harold Evans, former editor of The Times and The Sunday Times, about Murdoch’s sway over editors were dismissed as “myths” or contradicted.

Murdoch also admitted that the scandal cost him the deal to fully take over UK paid-for television provider BSkyB


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    ()   ]. He complained about being harassed by paparazzi following the phone hacking scandal but conceded it was part of “the game.”

Meeting politicians to put News Corp’s views across was also deemed part of “the game” of media ownership in his testimony Wednesday.

He added that he “did not see anything wrong” with News Corp lobbyist Frederic Michel’s frequent communications with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s special advisor Adam Smith. Emails between the two raised eyebrows on Tuesday as to the extent to which Smith was briefing Michel about the government’s attitude towards the BSkyB bid.

He admitted he was “surprised that it had gone on for so long and that there were so many emails.”

Rupert Murdoch also took the opportunity to air his views on the future of the media. He believes that the print media is likely to be only available in tablet form within the next two decades, and said there would be “billions” of tablets in the world within the next decade.

News International has invested heavily in iPad applications for The Times and The Sunday Times, in an attempt to hold on to its readership as circulations decline.

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