On my last take on Zynga (ZNGA), I told you that unless the company surprised us in some way, the stock was a short-term sell.
Well today shareholders got a big surprise, as Nevada lawmakers made internet online real-money gambling legal in the state. The question is, will this make a difference for Zynga and will it be a game-changer for the company?
The answer is yes, but not in the short term. Like I said in my previous post on the company (please consider: Zynga: No Surprises Until At Least Q4):
As per the Nevada gaming license the company has applied for, Zynga said it is simply positioning itself for legislation that would permit online gambling in the future, but it is not expecting any revenue from this activity anytime soon. In fact, it does not expect anything to happen for all of 2014.
OK, so if the company is not expecting to begin gambling operations in the U.S. in 2014, that means that the earliest we can expect something from it is 2015.
Also, as far as the partnership with bwin, like I said before, the earliest date that we can expect any kind of surprise will be Q3. But from the looks of things, I think we have to wait for Q4 of 2013 (at the earliest) to get a better picture.
So in other words, while it is positive that Nevada has at last legalized gambling -- and chances are that more states will follow - the thing is that Zynga will not have any benefit any time soon.
Bloomberg also confirms something along the same lines saying:
The San Francisco-based company filed for a preliminary finding of suitability for gaming in Nevada, Chief Revenue Officer Barry Cottle said in December. It could take the San Francisco game maker 12 to 18 months to become eligible for real-money wagering in the state, he said at the time. Dani Dudeck, a Zynga spokeswoman, couldn't immediately be reached for comment today.
So the question is, when will Zynga be able to monetize such legislation? The answer is not until around 2015 at the earliest. So the next question is, should we buy the stock today, knowing that gambling earnings are at least two years down the road?
This is a tough question. I have said from the very beginning (all my Zynga logic here) that gambling is where Zynga will make big money and where shareholders will reap big rewards. But many things can happen in two years. I for one can not take the chance to discount such an event two years in the future. So many things can go wrong over the next two years.
Having said that, however, the market is the market. If the market feels that Zynga must go higher based on something that will happen in two years from now, then we must tag along.
As for a recommendation, it's a very tough call.
If you are invested in the stock and have not sold, just hold on to it. Like I have said before I think in the long run the company will do great.
If you are more short term oriented and if the price action continues to trend above $3.41 over the next several days ($3.41 was the resistance level as per my last post), then the market says you have to follow and buy even if you sold recently.
The bottom line is yes, it is a new era for Zynga and the Nevada legislation opens up a world of opportunity, but it is too far away in order for investors to be able to make a safe "bet" on the stock. However, if the stock continues to trend above $3.41, then Zynga's upward trend has resumed and investors - especially short term oriented players - should follow.