Spotify slips after first-quarter forecast misses expectations
Spotify Technology SA offered a first-quarter financial outlook short of Wall Street’s expectations, raising concerns after a more robust 2019.
The world’s largest streaming audio service said it expects a first-quarter loss of 65 million euros to 115 million euros ($71.6 million to $126.8 million), wider than the Bloomberg Consensus estimate of 53.5 million euros.
Spotify shares dipped 3.1% to $149.50 in U.S. premarket trading Wednesday. The stock has climbed 11% in the past 12 months, underperforming the S&P 500 index.
While Spotify expects to continue growth in monthly active users and premium subscribers, it said in a statement, “we have been appropriately conservative regarding our 2020 guidance as our data, particularly around the benefits from podcasts, is still reasonably new.”
The Stockholm-based company said it added 23 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2019, beating the consensus forecast and setting a record for its annual growth.
For all of 2019, Spotify signed up 64 million new customers, far more than the 25 million added in 2018.
Spotify reported a loss of 1.14 euros a share for the quarter, swinging from a profit a year earlier. It has been losing money because it pays out the majority of its revenue to record labels and other music owners. The company is investing in podcasting to improve its profitability.
The podcasting push took a step forward Tuesday with Spotify’s announcement that it’s acquiring the Ringer, the sports and entertainment website founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons, for undisclosed terms. The Ringer has a popular set of podcasts, the site’s main appeal to Spotify as it expands its sports offerings.
“We look forward to putting the full power of Spotify behind the Ringer as they drive our global sports strategy,” Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff said in a statement.
While more than 140 million of Spotify’s customers use its free, advertising-supported service, the company has struggled to attract sponsors.
Europe and North America are Spotify’s base, accounting for more than 60% of subscribers. But Spotify’s future growth depends on Latin America and Asia.