Pandora Seeking CEO - Would Mel Karmazin Fit The Bill?

| About: Pandora Media (P)

Pandora (NYSE:P) announced corporate results Thursday, but perhaps the bigger story is that the company is in search of a new CEO. The company announced that current CEO Joseph Kennedy is stepping down. Kennedy has been CEO since 2004.

This is an interesting development on a few fronts. Former Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) CEO Mel Karmazin stepped down at the end of last year, and despite Jim Meyer being named Interim CEO at the satellite radio provider, Sirius XM is still in search of a permanent person (it could be Meyer).

Are Sirius XM and Pandora now shopping in the same market for leadership? Is Mel Karmazin, who indicated a desire to lead a company, a good candidate for Pandora? These are some interesting questions.

In my opinion Pandora is the type of situation that Karmazin may find attractive. In addition, he has the cache on Wall Street to make some deals happen. In essence he is a shark with costs and turn-around stories. He is a deal maker, and a bottom line man. He is also a smart man, and will only take a position that he has a reasonable chance at success with.

Sure, Mel Karmazin has slammed the Pandora business model. That does not mean that he could never step into a role there. Consider history. Not less than a month before stepping into the CEO role at Sirius XM Karmazin was slamming the satellite radio business model.

What changes would Karmazin make at Pandora? In my opinion he would try his hardest to work deals with record labels. He would maximize advertising revenue, his forte early in his career. He would seek out deals that are accretive to the company, perhaps even working on a merger. A Mel Karmazin at Pandora would be a huge coup for the company. My odds of him taking such a position are between 10% and 20% at the moment.

The bottom line is that part of the rise in Pandora was not only due to "decent numbers", but also the fact that the company is looking for a proverbial fresh start with new leadership. By the numbers, Pandora lost 4 cents per share and had revenue of $125 million. The street was expecting a loss of 5 cents and revenue of $122 million. Certainly Pandora is not out of the woods just yet, but they are closer to the edge of the forest than many predicted. Pandora states that they now are responsible for 8% of the U.S. radio market.

For February Pandora annonced continued listener growth with 67.7 million active users tuning in for an awesome 1.38 billion hours. That equates to the average listener tuning in for about 21 hours per month or about 40 minutes per day.

The combination of the financial results and the CEO stepping down sent Pandora shares soaring from a close of $11.73 to an after hours close of $14.16. For Friday look for the equity to settle down a bit. The Pandora story is still an uphill challenge from a business perspective. Savvy investors may be sellers on this news early Friday, but now we have CEO speculation to consider. I hear Mel Karmazin is available.

Disclosure: I am long SIRI. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I have no position in Pandora.

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