Pandora falls 4% on earnings news

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Internet music giant Pandora fell 4 percent in initial after-hours trading after the company released its fourth-quarter 2016 earnings results.

Pandora actually beat expectations, but this was already worked into the stock because the company announced last month that they would beat guidance. Investors were apparently looking for something better.

The earnings per share loss came in at 13 cents, when analysts were forecasting a negative 21 cents. Revenue was $393 million, above the $374 million Wall Street was expecting. Revenue is also up 17 percent from the same period the year before.

“We made significant progress in 2016 by driving leverage in our core business while accelerating subscriptions to our paid product,” said CEO and founder Tim Westergren, in a statement.

While many of its users don’t pay anything, the recently unveiled Pandora Plus and Pandora Premium services have helped the company further monetize its music-streaming business. With an emphasis on skipping songs and a better offline experience, Pandora is hoping that the newly introduced features will make it easier for them to compete with Apple Music, Amazon and Spotify.

But the largest chunk of its revenue still comes from advertising, which brought in $313 million, or up 16 percent year-over-year. Subscriptions brought in under $60 million, up 5 percent from the same time frame the previous year.

The music-licensing business is costly, with earnings bogged down by artist fees. Because Pandora has traditionally focused more on radio than downloads, its fees are fixed instead of negotiating directly with artists.

It’s still a tough business to be in and the company recently announced widespread layoffs. Competitor Spotify has also run into challenges, and as we recently reported, it is looking to postpone its IPO plans until it can better improve its financial position. 

Pandora has been subject to frequent acquisition rumors and its shares are up 58 percent in the past year as a result.