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Zynga Buys NaturalMotion For $527M, Beats on Earnings

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Social gaming company Zynga (ZNGA - Get Report) announced Thursday a $527 million cash and equity acquisition of privately-held, UK-based mobile game developer NaturalMotion, in an effort to accelerate the company's mobile growth.

The San Francisco-based firm also said that it's implementing a cost cutting plan that will include a 15% workforce reduction of about 314 employees and lowering its spending on datacenter infrastructure. Zynga estimates that its cost reduction strategy will lead to pre-tax savings of $33 million to $35 million in 2014.

For the fourth quarter, Zynga reported a net loss of $25 million, down from the loss of $49 million in the year-ago period, but up from the third-quarter net loss of $68,000. The company lost 3 cents on a per share basis, topping estimates by a penny.

Bookings came in at $147 million, a decrease of 44%, but still beating estimates by $6 million.

Daily active users (DAUs) came in at 27 million, down from 56 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. DAUs were down 12% sequentially.

Zynga is upbeat on 2014 bookings, expecting $760 million to $810 million in bookings versus the Wall Street target of $629 million. However, the midpoint of the $138 million to $148 million bookings range falls short of the average analyst estimate of $146 million.

Shares were surging nearly 20% to $4.28 in after-hours trading.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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