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Pandora Media Inc Stock Could Get a Buyout Boost

Aaron Levitt

It’s tough to be dead last in one of the hottest sub-sectors of technology. For internet radio and streaming music provider Pandora (NYSE:P) that position has meant plenty of big-time p stock price declines and heartbreak for its investors.

After peaking in 2014, it’s been pretty much downhill for Pandora, and that’s both in terms of listeners and revenues. With that, shares of Pandora have sunk about 90% since peaking back in 2014- at the height its euphoria.

But there is some potential for Pandora these days and that’s a hefty dose of M&A. The stock still has a lot to offer the right media or tech company looking to build upon their own music or streaming offerings. And with that hope, Pandora could be a good gamble for patient investors.

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P Stock Runs into Trouble

Pandora got its start back in the heyday of the dotcom boom. The firm basically created the playlist for internet radio. But like a lot of first timers, they fail to see the changes coming. And in P’s case, that was streaming music and using algorithms to create custom playlists for users.

As on-demand rivals Apple Music and Spotify quickly ate up Pandora’s ad-supported traditional radio model’s market share of listeners, the company was forced to change gears and shift to streaming.

Unfortunately, that strategy hasn’t worked too well. Since then the number subscribers and, more important, paying subscribers, has flatlined.

According to recent Business Insider piece on P stock, Pandora had 76.2 million active users each month back in 2013. At the end of 2016, that number had only grown to 81 million. Even worse is that the vast bulk of these are users listening to the free and ad-supported subscription.

Contrast this to the 40 million to over 140 million active user growth that Spotify has seen. And here, the bulk of those have been paying customers.

That’s not particularly good. Nor is it great that listen time on the site has actually decreased. So, naturally, shares of P stock have cratered right along with it. Pandora stock is now sitting at all-time lows.


A White Knight for P Stock?

But that low share price might be exactly what Pandora needs. The P stock  market cap is a very easy to eat $1.13 billion. And there is a lot there that a media or music group would want.

For one thing, all the data Pandora has collected over the years. The hallmark of Pandora’s streaming comes down to recommendations based on direct user “thumbs up” or thumbs down” ratings.

Much in the same way that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) a huge cache of user data to entice advertisers with, P has done the same. If you’re a music executive, perusing through that data could lead to direct insights as to what will be the next big hit.

And, if you’re Facebook, imagine paring that data with you already large list of “likes” for a P subscriber. Pandora could be a huge coup for a company like Facebook, if it ingrates Pandora’s interface into its applications and allows advertisers to leverage its entire platform.

Meanwhile, P stock might make an interesting acquisition for a telecom play. AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) have become more about delivering and creating content in recent years.

Pandora would be a nice tuck-in operation and allow them to leverage their user bases as well as the data needed to stream/play internet radio.

And interest is already there in the buyout arena. How can we forget “regular” radio play Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI). SIRI already made a $15 per share offer to Pandora last year and finally agreed to a $480 million 16% stake in P.

That stake was used to fend off a big by private equity house KKR. Innocently, KKR recently announced a $150 million investment in P to fend off another private equity group- Corvex Management.

Clearly, others have already seen the value potential in Pandora’s platform. And with prices for the firm now sitting at historic lows and with a market cap less than $2 billion, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pandora starts getting some serious inquiries in the months ahead.

Perhaps even more so, when all that lower tax rate cash starts hitting corporate balance sheets.

P Is a Buyout Gamble

For investors, P’s value lies having Pandora tucked away inside some other company. And unless that happens, investors shouldn’t expect too much from P stock shares. The firm does produce a decent amount of revenue. However, that number has been declining and P has never turned a profit.

But at $4 per share, it might be worth the gamble and hold if/when the buyout comes. There’s value there, but only if it can be unlocked by someone else. And in that, Pandora might make a good choice for risk-seeking investors looking for a turnaround play.

Disclosure: None

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