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Why Pandora Media, Inc. Stock Popped Today

By Steve Symington - Feb 11, 2016 at 3:19PM

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The music-streaming specialist popped after reports it is in talks to sell itself.

What: Shares of Pandora Media (P) jumped as much as 14.8% Thursday afternoon after The New York Times reported the music-streaming specialist is in talks to sell itself.

So what: The report comes ahead of Pandora Media's fourth-quarter 2015 earnings release, which is scheduled after the market close today. Specifically, the report cites "people briefed on the talks" as stating Pandora "has held discussions about selling the company," and is working with Morgan Stanley to organize meetings with potential buyers.

Now what: On one hand, with shares down more than 30% so far in 2016 and 60% below their 52-week high set in October, it makes sense that Pandora could be a potentially attractive acquisition target. On the other hand, if Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews is sincere in his insistence that recent competitive headwinds holding back growth in active listeners are indeed temporary, it would seem to be in Pandora shareholders' best interests to allow the company's ambitious long-term plans to play out.

After all, the company only just received a positive ruling on 2016 royalty rates from the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board in December, and has made multiple strategic acquisitions in recent months to broaden the scope of its business to both live events and an on-demand service going forward. Additionally, it continues to strike new direct royalty deals with publishers in an effort to reduce costs, while simultaneously rewarding the artists who make its platform possible in the first place. 

In any case, we'll receive more clarity on Pandora's direction with its quarterly report and conference call this evening, but keep in mind that these talks in no way guarantee a deal will happen. In the meantime, investors would do well to continue focusing on the factors that actually drive Pandora's business.

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