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Can Pandora Keep Going After Last Week's 11% Pop?

By Rick Munarriz - Aug 1, 2016 at 9:02AM

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The streaming music provider moves higher after continuing buyout buzz and an activist investor potentially raises the stakes.

Last week was a good one for Pandora Media (P) investors. Shares of the leading provider of streaming music moved 11% higher after media reports indicated that it hired a pro to smoke out strategic alternatives, a potential buyer had some kind words to say about the company, and an activist investor filed with the intent to boost its stake in Pandora.

The week kicked off with sources telling Bloomberg that Pandora hired Centerview Partners as an advisor to explore strategic options. The move was reportedly done as Pandora arms itself in light of hedge fund operator Corvex pushing for a sale of the company. Corvex had amassed a 9.9% stake in Pandora, and in May went public with its request that Pandora sell itself to the highest bidder.

Things got a little more interesting on that front last week: Centerview filed for regulator approval to boost its stake in the lovelorn streaming platform to as much as 14.99%. The larger the stake the easier it will be for Centerview to push for an outright sale, and obviously the more it would stand to benefit if Pandora can find a buyer willing to pay a lofty premium for the former dot-com darling. 

Let's get Sirius

There was also a new development last week when it comes to the chatter surrounding Liberty Media (FWONA) making a play for Pandora. The Wall Street Journal had reported a week earlier that Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei had made an unsolicited offer to buy Pandora for $15 a share. It would then pair up Pandora with its majority stake in Sirius XM Radio (SIRI 1.15%), making it an even bigger force in music with a combined user base topping 110 million listeners. 

Last week's update came in the form of comments that Sirius XM made during its quarterly earnings call.  CEO Jim Meyer offered up some kind words in assessing Pandora's role in the seemingly crowded digital music scene.

"Pandora probably has the best chance of becoming profitable and probably has the most reasonable business model in that class," Meyer said during Tuesday's conference call.

Flattery isn't a precursor to an acquisition, but Sirius XM buttering up Pandora a week after reports that Liberty Media was rebuffed in its attempt to acquire Sirius XM on the cheap should raise a few brows. It will make it that much easier to justify the purchase if it should ever become official.

There was one critical voice during the rally. Detwiler Fenton analyst Alex Arnold put out a cautious note on Pandora, arguing that it may not get a better offer than Liberty Media's alleged buyout proposal at $15 a share.  

The next few weeks will continue to be interesting for Pandora, though continued gains will center around its prospects as a buyout candidate.  

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Sirius XM Holdings Inc. Stock Quote
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