Pandora Media shares are up 7% to about $9 on a down day for the market after the New York Times reported that it has hired Morgan Stanley to help sell the Internet music service. The report, citing “people briefed on the talks,” did not name a potential buyer.
The disclosure came as Pandora prepares to unveil its Q4 earnings today after the market closes.
The company has about 83 million users, but has been in Wall Street’s dog house with its share price down 52% since late October. It collapsed after execs tacitly acknowledged that Pandora will be hurt more than investors expected by music service competitors including Apple, Google, and Spotify. Execs said that Q4 revenues will come in lower than many anticipated and that listening hours will only increase about 3% vs the same period last year.
Yesterday Cowen and Co’s John Blackledge downgraded Pandora to “market perform” and dropped his target price by 57% to $9. He observed that “rising competition is curbing [Pandora’s] ability to raise ad loads, while at the same time listeners and hours growth have decelerated.”
But Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter remains a fan, with a target stock price of $26. “Pandora users should grow once competitors cycle through free trial periods, and we think it appropriate to value the company based on users,” he said on Monday.