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Zynga Shows Signs of a Turnaround to Play for Outsized Gains

Mattrick built his team for the turnaround including Clive Downie, COO and Alex Garden, President of Zynga Studios. Now this team needs to show investors some meaningful earnings results, which Mattrick said won't be truly be seen until 2015.

Another improved quarter like the first-quarter 2014 results will go a long way to reassuring investors that ZNGA is headed for some nifty capital gains. Though the company reported an adjusted Ebitda of $14 million for the first quarter, the company lost $61 million and shed $343 million from its cash/cash equivalent account, with the latter due to write downs.

However, by improvement, we suggest investors should watch the "Audience Metrics," "Monetization" of that audience, and "Bookings," to glean whether evidence of a ZNGA turnaround truly exists. ZNGA management considers these three metrics as "key," according to SEC documents. And so do we.

Chart Notes: "DAUs" mean daily active users of our games, "MAUs" mean monthly active users of our games, "MUUs" mean monthly unique users of our games, "ABPU" means average daily bookings per average DAU and "MUPs" mean monthly unique payers of our games. Unless otherwise indicated, these metrics are based on internally-derived measurements across all platforms on which our games are played.

Source: ZNGA Form 10-Q Quarterly Report - Q1 2014

Source: ZNGA Form 10-Q Quarterly Report - Q1 2014

Source: ZNGA Form 10-Q Quarterly Report - Q1 2014

From the charts, above, the MAU statistic from the "Audience Metrics" chart indicates a rise of approximately 10%, but also only show a 7.5% rise in MUU. This appears to imply that, on average, the games have become more addictive to more users. To get a better look at the trend in "addictiveness" of the games, the table, below, illustrates that ZNGA is moving in the right direction - back to user addictiveness levels of a year ago.

By dividing MUU by MAU (MUU/MAU), investors can gauge whether the trend in addictiveness is rising or falling. According to the first-quarter results, ZNGA may have turned the corner.

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