'Candy Crush' Maker Plans IPO, Reveals Big Profit, Sales Gains

Investor's Business Daily

King Digital Entertainment, maker of mobile game "Candy Crush Saga," filed for a U.S. initial public offering of up to $500 million Tuesday, revealing powerful profit and revenue growth.

"Candy Crush Saga" is played on Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and devices using Google's (GOOG) Android operating system.

Dublin-based King Digital, in a regulatory filing, said it had Q4 revenue of $602 million, up from $70 million a year earlier. The mobile-game maker, which will list on the NYSE under the symbol KING, had Q4 earnings of $159 million, up from $6 million.

King Digital's most popular game, "Candy Crush Saga" was launched on Facebook (FB) in April 2012. Other games include "Pet Rescue Saga," "Farm Heroes Saga" and "Bubble Witch Saga.

"In December 2013, an average of 128 million daily active users played our games more than 1.2 billion times per day," the company said in its IPO filing.

But King Digital faces stiff competition and low barriers to entry. Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen said he took two or three days to create the "Flappy Bird" game, which was red hot until he pulled the app.

Shares in Zynga (ZNGA), developer of "FarmVille" and other mobile games, have dropped about 60% since its IPO in December 2011.

Zynga rose 6% to 5.15 on Tuesday, the best since July 2012. It's up 45% since Jan. 30, when it announced a big NaturalMotion acquisition, layoffs and a slightly smaller-than-expected adjusted Q4 loss. Zynga also has rallied in recent days on news that Japan's SoftBank has a 0.8% stake.

SoftBank, which owns 80% of Sprint (S), in October bought 51% of SuperCell, creator of the "Clash of Clans" mobile game, for $1.5 billion. The Finnish firm, which isn't public, is profitable.

"Candy Crush," "FarmVille" and "Clash of Clans" are freemium games. There's no charge to play, but users can pay for extras.

Separately, online music streaming service Spotify is re cruiting a financial reporting specialist, a possible step to an IPO.

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