Angry Birds maker Rovio gains ground as profits rise

Rovio expects a movie sequel to boost business next year. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Angry Birds maker Rovio gains ground as profits rise

HELSINKI: Rovio Entertainment, the maker of the “Angry Birds” mobile games and movie, posted better than expected quarterly profit on Thursday, representing a fillip to investor confidence dented by a dramatic profit warning in February.
The Finnish company’s recent troubles have stemmed from tough competition and increased user-acquisition costs, as well as high dependency on the Angry Birds brand that was first launched as a mobile game in 2009.
However, adjusted operating profit in the first quarter of 2018 roughly doubled year on year to €10 million, with Rovio citing growth in its top games and lower marketing costs.
Sales, meanwhile, were down 1 percent at €66 million on declining revenue from its 2016 Hollywood movie.
Shares in Rovio, which listed last September, rose 5.6 percent on the news, recovering a some of the 50 percent decline after the February profit warning.
“Quarterly projections are difficult for the gaming companies as costs may fluctuate significantly between quarters,” said OP Bank analyst Hannu Rauhala, who has a “buy” rating on the stock.
“But the report nevertheless shows some stability in their performance, which strengthens confidence.”
Rovio reiterated the full-year outlook that had disappointed investors in February, when it said that sales could fall this year after jumping 55 percent in 2017.
In the past months Rovio has announced the departures of its head of games and its investor relations chief while cutting the pay of its chairman and vice chairman.
Rovio expects a movie sequel to boost business next year and the company has also stepped up investments in its spin-off company Hatch, which is building a Netflix-style streaming service for mobile games.


Oil edges up on looming Iran sanctions, but US-China trade war caps gains

Updated 14 min 1 sec ago
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Oil edges up on looming Iran sanctions, but US-China trade war caps gains

  • The US sanctions on the oil sector in Iran are set to start on November 4
  • other producers may struggle to fully make up for the expected Iran disruption, and that oil prices could rise further
SINGAPORE: Brent crude oil prices rose back above $80 a barrel on Monday as markets were expected to tighten once US sanctions against Iran’s crude exports are implemented next month.
Benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $80.26 a barrel at 0646 GMT, up 48 cents, or 0.6 percent, above their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $69.60 a barrel, up 48 cents, or 0.7 percent.
The US sanctions on the oil sector in Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are set to start on November 4. The United States under President Donald Trump is trying to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero to force the country to renegotiate an agreement on its nuclear program.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters on Sunday that it would be harder for countries to get sanction waivers than it was during the previous Obama administration, when several countries, especially in Asia, received them.
OPEC agreed in June to boost supply to make up for the expected disruption to Iranian exports.
However, an internal document reviewed by Reuters suggested OPEC is struggling to add barrels as an increase in Saudi supply was offset by declines elsewhere.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said on Monday that other producers may struggle to fully make up for the expected Iran disruption, and that oil prices could rise further.
Some relief may come from North America, where US drillers added four oil rigs in the week to Oct. 19, bringing the total count to 873, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday, raising the rig count to the highest level since March 2015.
The US rig count is an early indicator of future output. With activity increasing after months of stagnation, US crude production is also expected to continue to rise.
Reflecting rising US crude exports, the Intercontinental Exchange said its new Permian West Texas Intermediate crude futures contract deliverable in Houston, Texas, will begin trading on Monday.
In addition to the potential for rising oil supply, the ongoing Sino-American trade dispute is expected to start dragging on demand.
“The full impact of the US-China trade war will hit markets in 2019 and could act as a considerable drag on oil demand next year, raising the possibility of the market returning to surplus,” said Emirates NBD bank in a note.
Shipping brokerage Eastport said “Chinese manufacturing is beginning to slow” and that “Trump’s proposal of slapping ... tariffs on additional ... Chinese goods from 1 January would be a further drag on trade.”
K.Y. Lin, spokesman for Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp, a major fuel refiner, said “weaker demand in Europe and the US” was already affecting gasoline profit margins as excess fuel is being sent to Asia.