Biz Break: Pandora shares rise on talk of sale

Top Of The Order: Pandora Media reported its fiscal fourth-quarter results after Thursday’s market close, but it was something earlier in the day that got the market’s attention, and may put it in the spotlight for reasons the Oakland-based Internet radio leader isn’t used to.

The New York Times reported that Pandora has had discussions about selling itself, according to “people briefed on the talks.” Those “people” say Pandora is working with Morgan Stanley about exploring a possible sale. Such talk is considered to be curious, as Pandora’s market cap is now under $2 billion, down from $7 billion in 2014. In 2015, Pandora bought ticketing service company Ticketfly for $450 million, and acquired the assets of Rdio, another online radio provider, for $75 million.

When asked about the reported sales talks, a Pandora spokesman said, “by policy we do not comment on rumor or speculation.” That speculation still contributed to Pandora’s shares rising 8.2 percent, to close Thursday at $9.09.

After the market closed, Pandora reported a quarterly loss of 9 cents a share, on $336 million in revenue, compared with earnings of 6 cents a share, on sales of $268 million in the year-ago period. Excluding one-time items, Pandora earned 4 cents a share, while analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast the company to earn 7 cents a share on $331.7 million in revenue.

The company also forecast first-quarter revenue in a range of $280 million to $290 million, while analysts were looking for sales of $286 million.

Pandora said total listener hours rose 3 percent from a year ago, to 5.37 billion hours, but active listeners, a key measure of Pandora’s growth efforts, slipped to 81.1 million from 81.5 million in fourth quarter of 2014.

Middle Innings: 

Maybe Try DuckDuckGo, Instead: It looks like Google is trying to find a way to better get along with European Internet privacy regulators. According to the New York Times, Google is about block access to some disputed online links from all of its Google-related domains, including its main Google.com site. The moves are part of an ongoing effort to get Google to abide by a 2014 data-privacy ruling from the highest court in Europe.

It Might Not Be Ali-Frazier, But Still…: Tech companies are known far and wide for their love of accumulating patents, and for suing anyone who they might think is violating one of their patents, whether they are actually using it or not. And with companies like Apple, Google and Samsung working to change how people pay for things electronically, many leading Wall Street banks are steeling themselves for a patent fight with Silicon Valley that could end up being a dream scenario for the lawyers involved.

Or, You Could Buy A Cup Of Coffee: Everyone has their favorite coffee joint. Some folks like Starbucks. Some go for Peet’s. Some prefer the pour-over version offered by the unfortunately spelled Philz Coffee. There’s a great place in downtown Oakland called Modern Coffee that I have become a big fan of. And, hey, you know what costs less than a cup of coffee at any of these places? A share of Zynga stock.

Zynga, the San Francisco-based social gaming company that once got you into trouble with your boss because you spent most of your work hours playing “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars”online, watched its shares plunge 15%, Thursday, to close at $1.81. The reason Zynga got “zinged” was because of an earnings report and forecast that to call “disappointing” would be an insult to things that are always disappointing. Like Coldplay at the Super Bowl.

Bottom Of The Lineup:

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley tech stocks did.

Movin’ On Up: Cisco Systems, Tesla Motors, Glu Mobile, LendingClub and Barracuda Networks were among the day’s notable gainers.

In The Red: SolarCity added to its prior-day’s losses, as its shares fell another 10.5 percent. Declines also came from SunPower, Extreme Networks, Zeltiq Aesthetics and Finisar

The SV150 Index of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies rose 2.3 points to 1,381.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16.7 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,266.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 254 points, or 1.6 percent, to end the day at 15,660.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shed almost 23 points, or 1.2 percent, to fall to 1,829.

Quote Of The Day: “I’ve been in every position possible, and I’ve always gotten out of it.” — Keith Richards

Sign up for the 60-Second Business Break newsletter at www.siliconvalley.com.

Photo: The front desk of Pandora in Oakland, June 15, 2011. (Deeba Yavrom/Staff)

 

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