Did Zynga Lose 100 Million Users During the Fourth Quarter?

Zynga
ZNGA
will report its fourth quarter results after the bell this afternoon. While the company
tends to disappoint
investors with its earnings results, Bank of America
upgraded Zynga to Buy
this morning, indicating that the bank has faith in its future.
The upgrade has helped Zynga's stock rise more than six percent today. The gains could be short-lived, however, if the analyst consensus proves to be accurate. According to the
International Business Times
, Zynga is expected to report
another
loss. CNBC's
prognosis
is not much better. Meanwhile,
AppData
is reporting some troubling metrics for Zynga. According to the site, Zynga now has 137.7 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs). On December 28, 2012, the company had
270.8 million MAUs
. At first glance, it may appear that Zynga lost more than 130 million users in less than two months. That may very well be the case. However, AppData
recently changed
the way it reports metrics to correspond with Facebook's
FB
new reporting procedures. Thus, while it is wholly possible that Zynga just lost 130 million users, it is equally possible that the previous Facebook/AppData metrics were
wrong
. That being the case, it would mean that Zynga's numbers were even lower than what was reported in 2012. Neither scenario will provide the company with a positive outcome. If Zynga's numbers have always been lower than the data, investor faith could be greatly diminished. Likewise, if the firm dropped significantly in January, investors are not likely to have a positive view of the firm. Several high-ranking executives and developers resigned from their positions last year. At the same time Zynga
axed more than 100 jobs
and
terminated 11 games
. Despite these layoffs and game terminations, the company continued with its trend of acquiring
new talent
. Investors are likely skeptical of this move, however, considering how well the company's former hires and studio acquisitions turned out. There is hope that Zynga can rebound after it completes its gambling initiative. There are still a number of legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome, however, as well as the risk that larger and more experienced companies will conquer the market first.
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