A day after giving up its morning gains in response to a report that Spotify plans to offer limited mobile access to its library on an ad-supported basis, Pandora (P -2.5%) is selling off on an up day for equities. A note from Albert Fried's Rich Tullo could be playing a role.
Tullo, who downgraded Pandora to Underweight last month prior to its FQ3 report, isn't worried about the competitive threat posed by Spotify's new service, given Pandora has held its own against Spotify thus far and "the ease of use case of the Pandora platform defends Pandora’s market share."
He is, however, worried Spotify's willingness to pay higher royalty rates to artists will affect Pandora's 2014 negotiations with recording rights organization SoundExchange (responsible for a huge portion of Pandora's royalty payments).
Tullo: "We think 2014 will be a tough year for Pandora from a news flow perspective ... artists may be going into the negotiation from the position that Pandora needs to pay 4x to 10x more per performance."
Pandora recently gave up on trying to get the Internet Radio Fairness Act passed, and said it would focus on lobbying the Copyright Royalty Board for rate changes.