Zynga bookings forecast tops estimates as stay-at-home gamers drive spending

(Reuters) - Zynga Inc ZNGA.O forecast holiday-quarter bookings above Wall Street expectations after the mobile game publisher topped third-quarter estimates on Wednesday, as stay-at-home gamers drive spending on mobile games.

The “FarmVille”-maker has been strengthening its hold on the fast-growing mobile gaming market through a slew of acquisitions and licensing agreements with franchise-owners to publish themed games.

The company acquired “Toon Blast”-maker Peak for $1.8 billion and bought an 80% stake in Istanbul-based hyper casual game-maker Rollic for $168 million earlier this year.

Zynga forecast fourth-quarter bookings of $670 million, above analysts’ average estimate of $651.6 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Besides higher demand, it expects to benefit from acquisitions and its newest game, “Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells”.

The company, known for mobile games such as “Empires & Puzzles” and “Merge Dragons!” also raised its full-year bookings forecast to $2.24 billion from $2.2 billion, compared with estimates of $2.22 billion.

Zynga, whose key source of revenue includes selling in-game content such as virtual currency and lives, said it recorded strong advertising demand in the third quarter.

Several brands have started to come back into the advertising ecosystem after pulling back between March and June, Chief Executive Officer Frank Gibeau told Reuters, adding that a strong performance in “Words with Friends”, which generated high ad impressions, was the primary driver for ad sales.

The company’s third-quarter bookings rose 59% to $628 million from a year earlier, and topped estimates of $625.7 million.

Zynga said it plans to release more titles based on “CityVille” and “Star Wars”, among others, over the coming years.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi