Pandora's Upcoming Catalyst

This could be an important week for Pandora Media (NYSE: P  ) when it releases its monthly listening metrics for February. There hasn't been an impact on financial results from Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) launch of iTunes radio back in September, and a strong February would show that the two can coexist. There have been a few blips in what has been a steady rise in listeners and listening hours, so be ready for a possible opportunity later in the week, especially in light of potential future competition from Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) .


Source: Company press releases and author calculations

Seasonality
Active listeners have been growing steadily in low single-digits over the last 14 months, but there have been a few setbacks that seem to fall into two categories. In January of 2013 and 2014, there seems to be a recurring instance of seasonality, where the number of active listeners drops, but quickly recovers in February. In fact, last year, the number of active listeners rebounded in February to a level above the prior December, fully closing the gap. Last year, in January, there was a 2% drop, this year there was a 4% drop, and professional investors are likely looking for Pandora to close the gap again this year with a number above 76.2 million active listeners in February.

Initial iTunes Radio impact
Apple launched iTunes radio on Sept. 18, 2013, which caused a brief period of volatility as Pandora subscribers tried out the service. Some decided to go solely with Pandora, while other use iTunes radio in conjunction with Pandora. In October, the number of active listeners declined by 2%, sequentially, but rebounded quickly in November, nearly to the September level.

Why February numbers are important
After a little weakness in January, February can confirm that the decline in active users was just a temporary blip, rather than a trend that will continue as competition heats up. It is possible that the additional attention brought to online radio by the iTunes launch will provide free advertising for Pandora as people try multiple services and settle on their favorite one. However, the reverse is possible as well; after a brief and mild impact from the launch, iTunes radio could gain steam. We don't know the answer, yet, but will find out when February numbers are published.  Last year, they came out on March 7, which would correspond to this Friday.

Two new big wrinkles, Amazon and iTunes expansion
According to Re/code, Amazon would like to launch a new music service that will be bundled with Amazon Prime by the end of the year, but the company isn't close to closing a deal. This is a consumer goods business, but adding Amazon into the mix doesn't get music companies improved economies of scale -- it just erodes their pricing power. There are plenty of choices available to consumers for both free and premium music services, and the major labels don't need to offer Amazon a discount to erode the share of higher-paying customers. Amazon has been willing to take a massive hit in the short term to gain share, and if it decides to pay up for content, this would be another potential powerhouse in the industry. 

iRadio down under
Apple already has licensing deals in place and appears to be expanding globally. According to The Australian, iTunes Radio launched in the country on Feb. 11, which coincidentally is the only international market (if you include New Zealand) where Pandora is active. 

Per-user valuation is more than two times WhatsApp
When Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $42 per average Active Monthly User, many people were surprised at the valuation. However, to buy Pandora today, even without paying a premium, it would cost $99 per Average Active Monthly User over the last three months. The business model is very different, as advertising is part of the mix and there are paying subscribers, but that seems to be a high hurdle if growth does indeed slow when metrics are released later this week.

If you could only pick one stock this year, this would be it
There's a huge difference between a good stock and a stock that can make you rich. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for 2014, and it's one of those stocks that could make you rich. You can find out which stock it is in the special free report "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2014." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2862139, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/22/2014 5:49:21 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement