Investors See New Traffic, Hope For New Revenue Ahead Of Zynga’s First Earnings

Three months after going public, Zynga is having its first quarterly earnings call this afternoon, and expectations are high.

Public investors had given the social gaming developer a cool reception the first couple months it was on the market, with shares staying below its relatively conservative $10 opening price. That has changed in the last several weeks. It started gaining ground around the time that online gambling began to look like a new revenue stream for the company.

But the main reason for the investor optimism is Zynga’s big and possibly growing returns from Facebook’s platform. The social network’s recent S-1 filing explicitly said that Zynga accounted for 12% of its revenues, by generating payments through its Credits virtual currency, and by buying its ads to get users to games. A closer reading of the revenue numbers in the S-1, which covers through the end of 2011, shows especially high payments revenue in the last few months of the year. A discrepancy in the numbers could also mean that even more money came in.

Since the filing came out, the stock has gone up by more than 60%, to reach around $14.45 per share today. Now, analysts expect earnings of 3 cents per share based on quarterly revenue of $302 million, according to consensus estimates by FactSet Research, MarketWatch reports.

The new clarity around Facebook revenue isn’t the only thing getting investors excited. The company has also managed to launch and grow a number of social and mobile games — investors have been particularly worried about its ability to do this, and now they’re getting answers. Zynga’s traffic seemed to stall out over the fourth quarter, with its all-important daily active user count staying around 48 million from October through December, according to AppData. But investors who look at the data up to the present will see that the number has grown to 57.3 million. Much of the growth is from successful new launches, including Hidden Chronicles and Scramble With Friends, but older games like Zynga Poker have also made comebacks.

The call is at 2pm Pacific Time today. Stay tuned for our live coverage.