Internet radio company Pandora Media Inc. reported third-quarter sales that exceeded analysts' expectations as mobile advertising grew by more than half. But the company swung to a net loss as it spent more on marketing, sales and product development.
Sales by the Oakland-based company for the three months that ended Oct. 31 grew 50% from the same period last year to top $180 million, more than the $178 million that analysts were expecting.
Its mobile revenue, generated by ads on the streaming music service's smartphone and tablet applications, increased 58% year-over-year to nearly $105 million.
The company posted a net loss of $1.7 million (one cent per share), after generating net income of $2.1 million during the prior-year quarter, as its costs increased 54% to nearly $182 million. Excluding one-time items, Pandora's earnings were six cents a share, about what analysts were expecting.
"We experienced continued strong monetization across the board," said Brian McAndrews, Pandora's chief executive, president and chairman, on a conference call with analysts.
Executives noted on the call that the money the company spends on music royalties, as a percentage of revenue, fell to 48% from last year's 54%.
Pandora also gave guidance for its fourth quarter, saying it expects revenue to be in the range of $185 million to $190 million and earnings of two-to-four cents a share.
Shares of Pandora fell about 3% in after-hours trading. The stock closed at $29.69 on Thursday, up 4.4% for the day, and the shares have roughly tripled so far this year.
Pandora, which claims 70.9 million active users, is navigating an increasingly crowded industry of streaming music services, including Spotify, Rdio and Songza.
Apple Inc.'s highly anticipated iTunes Radio launched in September, but Pandora says its listening hours have held up well against the additional competition from the Cupertino, Calif., tech giant. While active listeners fell slightly in October from September, McAndrews attributed much of that drop to casual listeners trying out new services, such as iTunes Radio.
In the third quarter, Pandora's listening hours were 4.18 billion, up 17% from last year.
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