Flat profit gives Angry Birds maker's shares the blues

An employee works inside an office of Rovio, the company which created the video game Angry Birds, in Shanghai June 20, 2012. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Angry Birds maker Rovio Entertainment ROVIO.HE fell short of market expectations for quarterly sales and profit on Thursday, sparking a near 20 percent fall in the Finnish firm's shares.

Increased marketing costs meant adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were flat at 8.6 million euros ($10.2 million) in the third quarter, although sales rose 41 percent from a year ago to 70.7 million euros.

“Costs were surprisingly big but also the number of paying customers lagged expectations,” Hannu Rauhala, an analyst at OP Equities, who has a “buy” rating on Rovio, said.

Rovio which was listed on the Helsinki bourse in September saw its shares drop to 9.64 euros at 0837 GMT, a fall of nearly 19 percent and well below its IPO price of 11.50 euros.

“The company has changed a lot in the past years and it is considered as a growth company. The stock is strongly driven by growth expectations,” Rauhala said.

Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, but it plunged to an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015 due to a pick up in competition and a shift among consumers to freely available games.

Rovio’s game titles now include “Angry Birds 2,” “Angry Birds Blast”, “Angry Birds Friends” and “Battle Bay.”

Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; editing by Gwladys Fouche and Alexander Smith