Friday, February 10, 2017

Pandora Still Can't Make Money

Pandora (P) got close, but once again the world's largest Internet streaming operator failed to break a profit, according to The Street.

As the company announced a month ago, Pandora's fourth-quarter revenue of $392.6 million exceeded earlier analyst expectations of $374 million. The 17% jump in sales, the Oakland, Calif., company said Thursday, was due in part to an acceleration of subscriptions to its $5 per month radio streaming service known as Pandora Plus.

Advertising revenue in the quarter jumped by 16% to $313.3 million. Subscription and other revenue totaled $59.8 million, a 5% increase.

Nonetheless, Pandora posted a loss of $30.4 million in the fourth quarter, adjusted for some costs. A year earlier, Pandora reported a loss of $24.8 million.

Shares of Pandora were down 2.8% in after-hours trading to $12.27 after closing down 2.4% at $12.62.

For the past two years, Pandora has struggled to increase the size of its active listener base, and this past quarter was no different. Pandora said it had 81 million active listeners at the end of 2016, little changed from a year ago, when the total stood at 81.1 million.

Users of Pandora's free ad-supported radio service hear songs based on their listening preference. Pandora regularly touts its technology as being better than that of rival streaming operators at delivering music that their listeners like to hear.

In light of its struggles to reach profitability, Pandora on Jan. 12 said it would lay off 7% of its workforce. The job cuts excluded employees at Ticketfly, its concert ticketing operation, in addition to offices in New Zealand and Australia.

Pandora has made sweeping management changes over the past year as it seeks to become profitable amid increased competition from Spotify, Apple (AAPL) Music and similar offerings from Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google. CEO Tim Westergren returned to the position in March, and finance chief Mike Herring plans to move into a strategic position as president once his replacement is named. Sara Clemens, Pandora's chief operating officer, left the company last month.

Pandora investors, meanwhile, are eager to see the expected launch of its much-anticipated $10 per month on-demand service, Pandora Premium, sometime this quarter. A beta of Pandora Premium has been made available to a small number of users. Pandora Premium will compete more directly with Spotify, Apple Music and Jay Z's Tidal.

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