Things are getting “noisy” at mobile game maker Playtika (NASDAQ:PLTK), D.A. Davidson says, spurring a downgrade to Neutral as it sees investors “opting to stay away.”
Analyst Franco Granda sees warning flags in a few areas, not least in Playtika’s core market of casino games – where he sees the company losing share to SciPlay (SCPL), AppLovin (APP) and “exciting private unicorn” Moon Active.
A look at that portfolio left him “unenthusiastic” about a group of shrinking games, and he believes Playtika’s moves to invest in casual gaming and simply optimize costs in Casino are “indicators of underlying operating challenges and the need to diversify.”
Some limited success in new game development has led to a look at boosting inorganic growth, he notes, which leads in part to the company’s high-premium bid for Rovio (OTCPK:RVTTY).
The strategic reasoning for the deal is on point, Granada said, but there’s a “poor readthrough” against the ability to organically expand the casual portfolio, and the deal is likely dilutive to Playtika’s margins – not to mention that Rovio is closely held and looks unwilling to jump at a deal that currently sports a 60% premium.
Meanwhile, liquidity issues at Playtika’s majority owner Giant are “impacting the balance sheet of the company and creating unnecessary noise in the market.”
Filings show Giant drove a decision to put the company up for sale last March in order to meet liquidity needs, leading to millions in expenses engaging with dozens of companies. “It is clear to us … that this is distracting the board and laying out bad optics for investors, who are opting to stay away.”
BTIG’s review of Playtika found the offer for Rovio “perplexing.”