The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Pandora Media, Ford Motor, SIRIUS XM Radio, Apple and Monsanto

Zacks

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – August 8, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Pandora Media, Inc. (P-Free Report), Ford Motor Co. (F-Free Report), SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (SIRI-Free Report), Apple Inc. (AAPL-Free Report) and Monsanto Company (MON-Free Report).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Rising Demand for Pandora in U.S.

Pandora Media, Inc. (P-Free Report) continues to gain popularity in the U.S. on the back of solid growth of Internet radio listeners. The launch of innovative products and services coupled with improving car sales has resulted in such robust growth. Based in Oakland, CA, Pandora provides Internet radio services in the U.S.

Recently, Pandora Media reported key audience metrics for the month of July, wherein hours listened to Pandora music increased 14% to 1.28 billion hours from the prior-year period. Moreover, active audience for the month was 71.2 million, up 30% year over year. Such massive growth of listeners has driven the company’s share of in the total U.S. radio audience to 7.08% against 6.13% in the same month last year.

During the second quarter of 2014, the total audience listening to Pandora music was 3.88 billion as compared with 3.3 billion in same period last year, while average active listeners during the same period was 71.03 million against 54.9 million in the second quarter of 2013.

To tap the automobile market, Pandora is continuously forming strategic partnerships with automobile companies as people usually listen to music while driving. Pandora started with radio system installation in Ford Motor Co. (F
-Free Report) in 2010 and has already installed it in more than 100 vehicles.

The company believes that the current fiscal year will be profitable as it expects at least 33% of the total cars sold in the country to have Pandora radios.

Two months back, Pandora introduced a new service through which people can listen to radio at home through multiple devices. Through tv.pandora.com one can easily connect any gaming consoles or TV to listen to music.

Hence, we believe that such strategic moves undertaken by the company will not only boost its Pandora fan base but will also help the company to take an unprecedented lead over popular radio service providers like SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (SIRI
-Free Report) and Apple Inc. (AAPL-Free Report). Apple Inc.’s upcoming iTunes online radio service will offer hands-free voice control in automobiles.

Currently, Pandora has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Monsanto Hikes Dividend 14.7%

Monsanto Company (MON-Free Report), an agricultural products manufacturer, has recently announced a quarterly dividend hike. The company will be utilizing its free cash to boost stakeholders’ returns.

The company raised its quarterly dividend by 14.7% to 43 cents (or $1.72 annually) from 37.5 cents a share (or $1.50 annually). The increased dividend will be paid on Oct 25, 2013, to shareholders of record as of Oct 4. This is the fourth dividend hike by Monsanto since 2010, which has resulted in a cumulative increase of roughly 60%.

Monsanto last hiked its quarterly dividend to 37.5 cents from 30 cents in Aug 2012, reflecting an increase of 25%.

Monsanto has been rigorously taking steps to increase shareholders’ values. In June this year, the company announced a $2.0 billion share repurchase program, spread over three years. 

The company’s commitment toward increasing shareholders’ returns reflects its free cash flow-generating capability, sound liquidity position and defined future prospects.

Monsanto boasts a strong balance sheet, with cash and cash equivalents of $2.9 billion, exiting the third quarter of fiscal 2013. The company expects to generate high cash flow of $1.8 billion to $2.0 billion for full fiscal 2013.

Looking ahead, the company remains confident of its growth potential, suggesting enhanced value for shareholders.

We expect Monsanto to benefit from the rise in the corn seed portfolio pricing in fiscal 2014, leading to higher revenues.  

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