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Pandora refuses to comment on rumors of sale

Pandora refuses to comment on rumors of sale

Pandora (P) refused to comment on rumors that it was looking for a buyer during today’s earning call.

“We won’t comment on rumors. We will say we’re very confident in our ability to drive significant value to our shareholders,” said CEO Brian McAndrews during the company’s earnings call today. “We’re focused on working as an independent company.”

Trading of Pandora’s stock was briefly halted on Thursday ahead of its Q4 FY2015 earnings following reports from The New York Times suggesting the Internet radio service held internal discussions about selling itself. The company is said to have hired Morgan Stanley to meet with potential buyers, the Times wrote, and right now everything is preliminary.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters that Yahoo, Hulu, and Amazon could be possible suitors for the company.

In its last quarter of 2015, Pandora had mixed results, bringing in $336.2 million in revenue (a 25 percent year-over-year increase) and $0.04 earnings per share (EPS). Wall Street analysts had expected Pandora to bring in $331.83 million in revenue and $0.07 earnings per share (EPS). The full year results were also mixed with the company raising $1.16 billion in revenue and $0.09 EPS. Estimates were for $1.16 billion in revenue and $0.11 EPS.

Much of its revenue came from advertising, which brought in $269 million for the quarter — a 22 percent year-over-year increase — and $933.3 million for all of 2015 — up 27 percent annually.

The number of active listeners decreased during Q4. It stands at 81.1 million, down 400,000 from a year ago.

Pandora’s fourth quarter was marked by acquisitions of Ticketfly and also Rdio. It also won a victory of sorts by paying a lower than hoped royalty rate to record companies — a panel of federal judges set the rate at $0.17 for every 100 times a song is played to listeners outside of a subscription. This went up $0.03 and there were those that feared the royalty rate could have been higher.

The pick up of Ticketfly and Rdio were billed as giving Pandora a more well-rounded experience for its listeners. Not only could people have the traditional Internet radio, but now they’d have the option of either listening to songs on-demand, or also buying tickets to see their favorite artists live.

Chief executive Brian McAndrews said in a statement that in 2015, Pandora “demonstrated the power of our core industry-leading Internet radio business and made substantial investments and progress toward building the world’s go-to music destination for listeners and artists alike…” He offered this outlook for the upcoming year: “Given our confidence in our core advertising model, the massive long-term opportunity and the competitive advantages we have built, we believe 2016 is the time to build on this foundation and invest in our many opportunities to fuel revenue acceleration in 2017 and bolster long-term growth projects.”

Shares of the company closed up 8.21 percent at $9.09. In after-hours trading, it had fallen more than 5 percent. The company’s shares have slid over the past two years.

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