5. April 3: Zynga shares popped after the company debuted two online gambling sites — sites that use real, not virtual, money. Zynga lauched ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino in the U.K., where players can stock their accounts with pounds, dollars, euros, yen and Canadian dollars. The market loved the news, despite there already being heavy competition in the U.K. online gambling business. In another shot in the arm, Zynga notches a win in the Apple (AAPL) App Store when its free game, What’s The Phrase, cracks the top 10.
Aftermath: Zynga stock rallies 15% during the session to close at $3.53. Investors don’t know it at the time, but Zynga is about to begin a period of sustained underperformance.
6. June 3: Zynga zapped any good feelings or hope surrounding its comeback after it slashed 520 positions, or 18% of its global workforce, because of lousy operating performance. Traders couldn’t give Zynga stock any love for this cost-cutting move — not when it smacked of such desperation. ZNGA was forced to lay off employs because of weak operations. Indeed, business was so bad, Zynga took a hatchet to its second-quarter guidance for bookings and net loss.
Aftermath: Zynga stock drops 12% on the bad news. The hangover weights on ZNGA until it bottoms out on June 24 and finally reverses trend.
7. July 1: Relief set in — and the long slide in Zynga stock is arrested — after reports surfaced that founder and CEO Mark Pincus would step down so that ZNGA could bring in a new leader. Indeed, Zynga hired Don Mattrick — then president of Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox business — to be CEO and make the Zynga comeback story a turnaround story.
Aftermath: Zynga stock rises 28% over the first half of the month.
8. July 26: The honeymoon with Zynga stock stemming from the new CEO came to an abrupt end with the quarterly earnings report. ZNGA actually beat Street estimates and narrowed its net loss. But the company also delivered a double-whammy of bad news. Once again, Zynga slashed its outlook. Even worse from the Street’s point of view was that Zynga abandoned its plans to enter the online-gambling industry in the U.S.
Aftermath: Zynga stock tumbled 14% to close at $3.01 — its biggest one-day slide in a year.
9. Aug. 14: Zynga CEO Don Mattick began a sweeping overhaul of the executive team, designed to reduce layers of hierarchy and improve efficiency. Among those shown the C-level-suite door are the COO, the CTO and the Chief People Officer. In addition to previously announced restructuring plans and cost cuts, the new organizational structure pleases the market.
Aftermath: Despite falling on the news and trending down in the days after the purge, ZNGA stock finally stabilizes in late August and trends upward from there on.
10. Oct. 24: Despite flocks of users leaving its games, Zynga released better-than-expected quarterly earnings. ZNGA posted Street-beating revenue levels and a narrower-than-expected loss, although bookings continued to decline. In other welcome news, Zynga hired Clive Downie, an executive with considerable experience in mobile, to be chief operating officer of mobile game distribution. The surprise upside and move to shore up mobile left Zynga traders and shareholders feeling brighter about the future.
Aftermath: Zynga stock pops more than 5% in the session following the the third-quarter earnings release.
11. Nov. 25: Shares in Zynga topped out for the year in wake of sales figures from the competition — Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Both gaming consoles reportedly sold more than a million units each within the first 24 hours of becoming available. Around the same time, retailer GameStop (GME) said it had 2.3 million customers waiting to purchase the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft.
Aftermath: Zynga stock loses nearly 10% since its November high, but is still up more than 74% year-to-date.
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.