News Feb 12, 2016 07:55 AM EST

Pandora selling itself; stock soars over 10%

By Staff Writer

Pandora Media is in the process of selling itself. Pandora has roped in Morgan Stanley to facilitate the selling process including identifying potential buyers. The discussions are at preliminary stage. Pandora is spending heavily to attract more number of users.

Pandora Media, the largest internet radio service, enjoys the largest number of users for music streaming. Pandora's market capitalization is at $1.8 billion well below the $7 billion two years ago. Pandora's stock dropped over 60 percent since October 2015. 

The New York Times reports that Pandora is facing market competition in the internet radio space. Spotify and Apple Music are gaining momentum in this segment. Spotify is mobilizing $500 million additional capital to support strengthening of its operations. The number of paying users at Apple Music is encouragingly growing and now is hovering over 10 million. 

The number of users at Pandora was 81.5 million at the end of 2014 and eased to 78 million during the third quarter of 2015. The number of users at Pandora later recovered to 81.1 million by the end of 2015. Pandora's spending for getting more number of users is increasing, but the revenue realization from the growing numbers is bleak. 

Led by CEO Brian McAndrews, Pandora has emerged as a leading internet radio service. The shares popped 10 percent after the selling news spread in the market. Pandora Media Inc on New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) rose 8.45 percent to close at $9.11 on Thursday. Pandora has been criticizing business rivals in the internet streaming industry over unsustainable business environment by evaporating capital, as reported by Business Insider

Pandora reduced its guidance for 2015 year financial performance. The adjusted earnings are expected to be in the range of $51 million to $56 million as against the previous forecast of $75 million to $85 million.  Erik Gordon, a professor at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, said: "It is another stumbling pioneer. It has lots of users but can't grow revenue quickly enough."

Pandora is going through transition phase. Its two recent acquisitions further indicated the effort of Pandora to go beyond internet radio more specifically into on-demand streaming. In November 2015, Pandora acquired assets of embattled streaming service Rdio for $75 million. Pandora is banking on these measures to get into the on-demand streaming segment, according to Yahoo Finance

Pandora has posted $336 million revenues for the fourth quarter. It spent $143 million in content acquisition costs including music licenses. Pandora's spending also included $112.6 million on sales and marketing.

Pandora suffered a net loss of $19.4 million as against the $12.3 million net earnings in the previous corresponding quarter. The revenues for 2015 rose to $1.16 billion from $921 million. The net loss of $169.7 million included $111.6 million in stock-based compensation. It has also settled a royalty dispute with $58 million. Pandora had legal tussle with the music industry over recordings made before 1972.

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