February 14, 2019 / 7:08 AM / 9 months ago

Angry Birds maker Rovio sees sales growth in 2019 after weak fourth quarter

A Rovio sign and a figure of an Angry Birds character are seen in front of Rovio's headquarters in Espoo, Finland March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jussi Rosendahl

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Rovio Entertainment, the maker of the Angry Birds mobile games franchise, said it expected sales to grow this year, buoyed by new game launches and a movie release, after its fourth-quarter adjusted operating profit halved.

Rovio, which got listed in Helsinki in September 2017, has been hit by its high dependency on the Angry Birds brand, first launched 2009, and tough competition.

The Finnish company reported fourth-quarter adjusted operating profit of 5.3 million euros ($6 million), halving from a year ago. Sales dipped 1.7 percent from a year ago to 72.7 million euros.

However, Rovio forecast for 2019 sales to rise to 300-330 million euros from 281.2 million last year, with adjusted operating profit margin falling to 9-11 percent level from 11.1 percent last year.

Rovio expanded into film with an Angry Birds movie in 2016, which earned about $350 million at the box office and the movie sequel is due in August.

“We ... expect the movie and surrounding marketing to boost our licensing business as well as drive users to our Angry Birds games towards the end of 2019,” the company said.

The company has also stepped up investments in its 80-percent-owned spin-off company Hatch, which is building a Netflix-style streaming service for mobile games.

Rovio said it was seeking external funding for Hatch and was prepared to reduce its ownership in Hatch to below 50 percent.

Reporting by Tarmo Virki; editing by Rashmi Aich

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