Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) shares have been going in opposite directions for most of this month, and the sentiment surrounding them both appears obvious. But will these trends continue? Canaccord Genuity analysts Michael Graham and Maria Ripps studied some of the major Internet stocks and found that among those they studied, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) has the most negative reads, while Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) is among those with the most positive reads.
Pandora Media’s metrics look solid
According to the Canaccord Genuity team, their “quant model” for Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) shifted from negative into neutral this month. They said the expensive valuation of the company, as well as the declining short interest, are being partly offset by positive price momentum and expected growth acceleration.
They see Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P)’s metrics as being a positive, with the December numbers being solid. The cumulative number of listener hours rose 6% sequentially and 13.7% year over year. Also the total number of active listeners rose 5.2% sequentially marking the largest one-month increase in all of 2013.
Here’s a look at the full picture regarding Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P)’s metrics.
Sentiment on Pandora Media looks good too
Although today shares of Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) declined as much as 3%, the stock has performed pretty well this month. After strong metrics from December, Pandora stock rose approximately 17% as investors were encouraged by the solid numbers despite new competing services from Spotify and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Year over year listener hour growth did decelerate to 14% growth from 17% in November.
However, the Canaccord Genuity team notes that December was a difficult comparison. In addition, they said many of those who signed up for Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) probably did so after Christmas when they activated new devices. As a result, they probably only listed to the service for a few days during that month. But moving into January, the analysts think Pandora will see a positive effect on listening hours as these new listeners have more opportunities to listen.
They also note that the number of hours in the quarter so far is tracking a bit above their model. Also their ad load sampling suggests $1 of upside to their mobile ad RPM estimate of $37. As a result, they see some “moderate upside” to their forecast for Pandora’s fourth quarter. In the long term, they expect that Pandora will become “a very profitable cash flow generator.”
The analysts have a Buy rating on Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P).
Zynga moves negative
The Canaccord Genuity team said over the last month, their model for Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) actually turned negative from neutral because of expensive valuation, negative price momentum and declining short interest. The online gaming company’s metrics remain mixed, as you can see:
Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) is still losing Facebook users, and comScore’s December traffic data showed a 34% year over year decline in traffic for Zynga in desktop and a 18% year over year decline in mobile.
However, the analysts said their proprietary index for Android and iOS suggests that cumulative game ranking rose 14% year over year. Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s core games like Poker by Zynga, New Scramble with Friends, Words with Friends and CastleVille Legends saw improved performance on iOS and Android.
Sentiment about Zynga is negative
Unfortunately, however, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares fell about 11% this month after a 9% decline last month as investor sentiment surrounding the company remains low. Today shares fell another 2% in intraday trading.
The Canaccord Genuity team believes investors are focused on the rather lackluster game metrics. Farmville, which was Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA)’s highest monetizing game, saw its number of users drop significantly in the last quarter, which suggests that the bookings number will be “a close call relative to guidance.” In addition, they don’t think Zynga’s bookings will be able to grow year over year this year, and they suggest that management will have to “back off of this stated ambition.”
Although some investors may think Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) shares will recover a bit after management starts explaining its plan for this year, the Canaccord Genuity team isn’t sure that a plan is in place yet. They also don’t think near-term cost cuts will be enough to “satisfy a private equity investing mentality.”