Roblox shares soar as earnings defy gaming slowdown fears

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[1/2] A child looks back at a banner for Roblox, displayed to celebrate the company's IPO, on the front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Posts smaller-than-expected Q4 loss
  • January bookings estimated at $267 mln - $271 mln
  • CFO expects infrastructure-related capex to drop in 2023

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Roblox shares (RBLX.N) soared 25% on Wednesday as the gaming platform popular with kids and teenagers topped quarterly bookings estimates after a focus on attracting wider audiences helped it defy a sector-wide slowdown from pandemic peaks.

Its shares hit $44.18 and were on track for their best day in more than a year, adding about $5 billion to the company's market valuation.

Roblox - known for titles like heist game "Jailbreak" and role-play experience "MeepCity" - has tapped new markets and spruced up in-game features such as live concerts by partnering with artists including Elton John and David Guetta.

The initiatives have given Roblox an edge over legacy video-game publishers Take-Two Interactive (TTWO.O) and Electronic Arts (EA.O) - both of which delivered dour forecasts as they struggled to attract users in a weak economy.

"One of the main competitive advantages Roblox has over other platforms and media types is the broad range of content ... there are titles compatible with nearly every age cohort," said Third Bridge analyst Nicholas Cauley.

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Bookings, generated from in-game purchases of Roblox's virtual currency "Robux," rose 17% to $899.4 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31, beating analysts' expectations for $881.4 million, according to Refinitiv data.

Average daily active users (DAUs) stood at 65 million in January, compared with 58.8 million at December-end. Roblox also posted a smaller-than-expected loss of 48 cents per share in the fourth quarter.

"User spending on Roblox is more resilient than consumer spending on other forms of entertainment due to the lack of consistent pricing; there are no subscriptions or fees that are being raised to keep up with inflationary pressures," Cauley said.

Finance chief Michael Guthrie said capital expenditures related to infrastructure were expected to be down "somewhere between 25% to 30% in 2023."

The company's shares have surged more than 55% so far this year after falling 72% in 2022.

Shares since Roblox went public

Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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