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Zynga's 4th quarter better than expected

CEO Marc Pinkus cites "great momentum in mobile and advertising," but the company's projections for 2012 aren't as rosy as some might have hoped.

Zynga’s fourth quarter was strong and the company is humming along as its social games continue to lure users.

However, the company said first half sequential growth would be “slower” with a pick up in the last six months of the year.

That disclosure led to a 7 percent dip in after-hours trading.

Overall, Zynga’s quarter was better than expected. The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $435 million, or $1.22 a share, on revenue of $311.2 million. Non-GAAP earnings were 5 cents a share.

Wall Street was looking for fourth-quarter non-GAAP earnings of 3 cents a share on revenue of $301.1 million. Bookings for Zynga were $306.5 million in the fourth quarter.

For 2011, Zynga reported a loss of $404.3 million on revenue of $1.14 billion.

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus in a statement said that the company is seeing “great momentum in mobile and advertising and ended the year with a strong pipeline of new games.”

However, Zynga’s 2012 outlook may have been a disappointment. The company projected bookings of $1.35 billion to $1.45 billion and added “we expect that growth will be weighted towards the back-half of the year with slower sequential growth in the first half of the year.”

Non-GAAP 2012 earnings for Zynga are expected to be 24 cents a share to 28 cents a share. Wall Street was looking for 22 cents a share.

By the numbers:

  • Daily active users were 54 million in the fourth quarter, up 13 percent.
  • Monthly active users in the fourth quarter were 240 million, up 23 percent.
  • Average daily bookings per average increased to a little more than 6 cents in the fourth quarter, up 11 percent.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Zynga: Solid Q4, but first half sequential growth 'slower'."