Rovio raked in $106M last year in preparation for IPO

Angry Birds maker Rovio generated $106.3 million in revenue last year based on the success of three games and a booming merchandising business, the Finnish company reported today. The tenfold improvement over the previous year is a strong showing for the company as it looks ahead to an IPO next year. 

For 2011, Rovio pulled in earnings of $67.6 million before taxes, or 64 percent of total revenue last year. This was based on the performance of three games — Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio — which helped Rovio push its total game downloads to 648 million through the end of last year. Overall, Rovio now has 200 million active monthly users spread out over a number of different gaming platforms.

For Rovio, the numbers could be a run up to an even bigger year in 2013, when it plans to go public in New York or Hong Kong. “This company is preparing itself and getting ready,” Anders Lindeberg, Rovio’s head of investor relations, told Reuters, referring to a public listing.

Angry Birds is another sign of how big apps are becoming, following Instagram’s $1 billion sale to Facebook. But it’s not just downloads, in-app purchases and advertising that are driving revenue. Rovio said merchandising and licensing income accounted for 30 percent of revenue in 2011. That shows that Rovio has been able to leverage its IP into a lot of new business opportunities. Rovio’s marketing boss Peter Vesterbacka has said in the past he believes Rovio can be more than a game maker; an entertainment brand on the order of Disney (s dis) with more than 1 billion users.

Rovio raised $42 million last year and now has a valuation of $8 to $9 billion. That puts it in the same league as struggling phone maker Nokia(s nok). There is still a lot to prove for the Rovio, which is dependent on putting out hit after hit based on the same IP. So far, there hasn’t been any reason to doubt the Angry Birds franchise considering Angry Birds Space zoomed past the 50 million download mark in 35 days. But critics will still question whether the company can keep up the momentum in the years ahead and whether it can build another break out hit that’s not part of the Angry Birds line.