U.S. futures are heading slightly higher on Monday morning as Wall Street prepares for a slightly more robust earnings calendar over the next five days before entering what should be a quiet Fourth of July-shortened week.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pandora Media Inc (P)
P shares are jumping on Monday morning, following last week’s 18% performance, following reports that co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren is going to step out of the C-suite — despite the fact that there’s currently no replacement in the wings.
Westergren is expected to remain aboard the internet music service until a replacement is found.
Pandora has spent the years following its 2011 initial public offering expanding its user base and building a healthy upslope on the top line. However, profits have remained elusive, and Wall Street has lost its patience, driving P stock down to a mere quarter of its value from its 2014 high-water mark. You can blame competition from all corners, including Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), iHeartMedia Inc’s (OTCMKTS:IHRT) iHeartRadio, Spotify and Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Play.
Pandora hoped the way out was a buyout by Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI), but those hopes were mostly dashed earlier this month after Pandora rejected a low offer, and Sirius instead made a $480 million investment.
Westergren’s departure sparked something of a backhanded upgrade by Pacific Crest’s Andy Hargreaves, who believes the company likely will hire a more disciplined hand, but that it won’t do much to save Pandora from its flawed business model. However …
“We expect the Sirius-appointed board members to push for a moderated cash burn rate, in part to protect Sirius’ $480 million of principal. Lowering the burn rate may also lower subscriber growth forecasts, but we would view this trade-off positively as it would reduce the odds of insolvency and extend Pandora’s time frame to try to find a sustainable model.”
This all comes on the heels of a pair of buy ratings last week — one initiated by Gabelli’s John Tinker, and one reiterated by JPMorgan’s Doug Anmuth.
P stock is up 4% in Monday morning trade.
GrubHub Inc (GRUB)
GRUB shares are headed in the other direction after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock amid worries about competition from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Last week, Wedbush Securities said early last week that GrubHub was a potential buyout target for Amazon in the wake of the Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) acquisition. Wedbush says that with Amazon’s Restaurants delivery business stalling, GrubHub would be a sensible pickup.
“During the same time, [GrubHub] has successfully expanded into new markets, reaccelerated user and revenue growth and is rapidly scaling its delivery infrastructure,” analyst Aaron Turner said, while reiterating an “Outperform” rating sent GRUB stock higher and set it up for weeklong gains that put it at new all-time highs.
However, this morning, GRUB is being knocked from that perch by about 4% thanks to Morgan Stanley, which has dropped the stock to “Equal Weight.”
It also cut its price target from $47 to $43 (about 11% downside) on its own belief that Restaurants will pressure GrubHub’s acquisition costs and profitability.
“The scary thing for GRUB is that AMZN is gaining rapid traction in the category despite the fact that we believe they are still acting rationally and not aggressively pricing,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts said.
And no, Morgan Stanley doesn’t believe Amazon is buying GrubHub.
Nestle SA (ADR) (NSRGY)
Lastly, NSRGY shares are trying to digest news that the European consumer goods giant has become the biggest-ever target for Dan Loeb and his hedge fund, Third Point.
Loeb has disclosed a $3.5 billion stake in Nestle, or about 40 million shares, and is now calling for the following actions:
- Ditch its 23% stake in French cosmetics firm L’Oreal SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS:LRLCY).
- Boost productivity by setting a profit margin target of 18%-20% by 2020.
- Increase debt to fund stock buybacks.
Management has already been considering several corporate shifts, including unloading the U.S. confectionery unit.
Bloomberg notes that this is not only the largest investment Third Point has ever made, but that Nestle is the largest target Loeb has ever gone after.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.