I was away last week for the Zynga (ZNGA) earnings call, so I wasn't able to comment on it here. But I still wanted to chime in with a few thoughts, given that I've discussed it several times over the past four months.
Going into the call, the big catalyst I was looking for was a headcount reduction. We didn't get it.
I still think this is very likely, and that it will probably happen in the next month or so. New CEO Don Mattrick has now had well over a quarter to size things up, and I believe he will likely want to get the cuts announced before the end of the year so he can turn the page for 2014.
That's the biggest near-term catalyst I see. As an investor, you're still protected on the downside with Zynga's cash and assets, which continued to hang on in this past quarter even as the number of monthly and daily average users (MAUs and DAUs) kept falling.
The biggest thing that will send this stock higher in 2014 will be a hit game -- or two. A boy can dream. There are no guarantees in the mobile-gaming world, but I still believe Zynga under Mattrick will be able to surface a few good ones over the next year.
When they come, you should look for the stock to start rocketing upward on the first signs that they're become hits. Don't wait for the earnings. Look to get into the stock earlier than that. Watch out for buzz among gaming blogs and, of course, monitor the game charts for early signs.
Glu Mobile's (GLUU) ascent over the past six weeks, with its "Deer Hunter 2014" game, offers a good playbook for how Zynga's stock should react on the news of a hit game.
When these games crack the top 10, they are so profitable that these companies print money. There's also a virtuous circle that goes on with these hit games: The rich get richer. If you're able to crack top 5, you really make money, and then you have a chance of staying on these charts for longer.
The day will come for Zynga. Don't expect a big move from the stock in the next four to six months, though -- except for a spike on job cuts.
The big play for Zynga will come on news of a hit game. It's then that this stock will have a good chance of doubling or tripling.