Pandora Stock Rallies On Strong Subscription Revenue Growth

P could rally right into key technical resistance

Feb 22, 2018 at 9:25 AM
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Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) stock is set to jump nearly 5.8% at the open, after the music streaming service reported a 63% rise in subscription revenue to $97.7 million, and said its number of subscribers increased 25% from this time last year to 5.48 million. This is helping to overshadow a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss of 21 cents per share, though revenue of $395.3 million beat expectations.

Pandora earnings have received mostly skeptical reviews from analysts so far. While Canaccord Genuity said the results "showed some promising signs," the company's "ongoing transition will likely keep a lid on the stock for now." As such, the brokerage firm cut its price target to $8 from $11 -- mirroring similar moves by J.P. Morgan Securities and Wedbush. RBC and Credit Suisse set the bar even lower, slashing their Pandora price targets to $6 and $5, respectively.

Options traders are likely to be impressed with the stock's initial earnings reaction. Bullish speculators have been flooding Pandora in recent weeks, with the weekly 2/23 5.50-strike call home to peak open interest of 41,334 contracts. One trader, in particular, appeared to have bought a massive block one week ago today for $0.33 apiece.

Outside of the options pits, though, sentiment toward Pandora stock echoes the pessimism of those post-earnings brokerage notes. While two-thirds of covering analysts maintain a "hold" or "sell" rating on the security, 57.45 million P shares are currently sold short. While this is down sharply from a mid-July record high of 95.96 million shares, it still accounts for a notable 30.15% of the stock's available float.

Looking closer at the charts, it's not surprising to see so much skepticism priced into P shares. Heading into today's trading, the stock was down 62.9% year-over-year -- including yesterday's 8.6% plunge to close at $4.87. And while the equity has come off its late-January record low of $4.09, it's run into a ceiling in the $5.40-$5.50 neighborhood, home to an early November bear gap. Against this backdrop, it's possible some of the call buying at the out-of-the-money 5.50 strike was at the hands of short sellers hedging against a post-earnings breakout.




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