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Key to Pandora's turnaround: a better advertising platform

(Reuters) - Kevin Kleinman, a trader at Watchhimtrade.com, listens to music on Pandora every morning as he executes trades worth millions of dollars. But he will not bet a dime on the music streaming company.
A person holds a smart phone with the Pandora app showing in New York U.S., June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Once a Wall-Street darling, Pandora Media Inc has struggled as subscribers spend less time on the company’s app, advertising revenue growth declines and investors worry over a management shakeup that saw co-founder Tim Westergren step down as chief executive.
Pandora, the largest streaming music provider in the United States, is still a compelling asset with more than 73 million active monthly users and because its stock is valued cheaply.
But shareholders and analysts say the company needs to immediately invest in a new ad platform to woo local advertisers and stay relevant in the face of stiffer competition from Spotify and Apple Music, which are grabbing listeners and advertisers with their user-friendly interfaces and exclusive contracts with popular artists such as Taylor Swift.
New Chief Executive Officer Roger Lynch admitted on the company’s earnings call last month that advertisers were shying away because its ad platform had gaps that made it hard for advertisers to transact with Pandora, but he did not lay out a detailed plan on how he planned to tackle the problem. He said Pandora will spend more to improve its existing ad platform.
“At the very top level, I think the company has clearly misexecuted,” said William Graves, chief investment officer at Boardman Bay Capital Management, which holds 315,500 shares of the company as of Sept. 30.
Still, Graves says Pandora is a good investment because of its strong cash position, big customer base, and the possibility of expanding its subscriber base outside the United States.
While Lynch may have been evasive on the call last month, a source told Reuters that the company is likely to buy an advertising technology firm within the next two months.
The source, an investor in Pandora who declined to be identified, said they spoke to the company’s chief financial officer after the earnings call and the executive strongly hinted that Pandora was going to buy, rather than build out its ad technology.
Pandora’s pricing is its best feature.
It offers three services: a free, ad-supported one; Pandora Plus, which is an ad-free subscription at $4.99 per month that allows subscribers to replay tracks; and Pandora Premium that costs $9.99 per month and supports a search-and-play feature and customizable playlists.
Watchhimtrade.com’s Kleinman said the cheap subscription rate is the only reason he listens to Pandora.
Kleinman, 27, instead has placed bets in the online music industry through his holding in Apple Inc.
Pandora’s shares have lost nearly two-thirds of their value this year and not even a cash infusion of $480 million from Sirius XM Holdings Inc in June has been able to arrest the stock’s decline.
The forward 12-month median price target on Pandora’s stock has dropped from $11 to $8 in the past two months, according to Thomson Reuters data, but that is still a 66 percent premium to the stock’s close on Wednesday.
Apart from music companies, Pandora also competes with Alphabet Inc’s Google for ad dollars.
Like Google, Pandora allows advertisers to bid for ad space in real time, but analysts said the company’s platform needs to give customers more insight and feedback about how effective their ad campaigns are.
“One of the reasons (Google and Facebook) are doing so well ... is because they have a very clear ROI (return on investment) proposition to advertisers,” Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson said.
“If Pandora can provide some transparency around that, then it will meaningfully benefit their monetization.”
Ad revenue, which accounted for 73 percent of Pandora’s total revenue in the latest quarter, rose just 1 percent, compared with 7.5 percent growth a year earlier.
Meanwhile, costs to license music jumped 17 percent in the same period, and was nearly three-quarters of total ad revenue.
In contrast, Google spent less than a quarter of its revenue to bring traffic to its websites in the latest quarter.
A way to get more local advertisers to Pandora’s platform would be to offer ‘self-serve’ advertising that will allow advertisers to place ads without paying an intermediary, investors and analysts said.
“Local and medium-sized business are exactly what would be our target clients because they usually prefer a simpler offering to execute themselves so that’s definitely part of our plan,” said Chris Record, senior vice president of Pandora’s revenue operations.
Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Bernard Orr
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Tech gains lift Nasdaq; consumer stocks weigh on S&P, Dow

(Reuters) - Gains in technology stocks helped lift the Nasdaq on Thursday, while the S&P 500 and the Dow were weighed down by losses in consumer stocks.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Broadcom (AVGO.O) rose 3.2 percent after the chipmaker reported upbeat profit and boosted its dividend by 72 percent.
Lululemon Athletica (LULU.O) gained 7.8 percent after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker reported a higher-than-expected profit and gave an upbeat holiday season forecast.
Apple (AAPL.O) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) helped lift tech stocks and provided the biggest boosts to the Nasdaq.
General Electric (GE.N) shares were little changed after the industrial conglomerate said it was cutting 12,000 jobs at its global power business.
Strong earnings and solid economic growth have pushed stocks to record levels this year and Republican efforts to cut corporate taxes have added to the momentum.
The Senate Republicans on Wednesday agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on the tax bill amid early signs that lawmakers could agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline Looking at hong kong hotel list and promotion? GuangDong Hotel always provides different specials for our guests. We provides fully furnished rooms with various in-room facilities and amenities.


However, a gridlock between President Donald Trump and Congress over the passage of spending legislation before Friday has raised fears of partial shut down of the federal government.
“Very rarely does this actually turn into a government shut down,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Boston.
“What typically happens is the markets grow immune to this debate that at the eleventh hour ,some compromise is made and things move forward and I think that will be how this proceeds.&rdquo
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At 9:41 a.m. ET (1441 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 6.35 points, or 0.03 percent, at 24,147.26, the S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.45 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,629.72.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 15.13 points, or 0.22 percent, at 6,791.50.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the consumer staples index’s .SPLRCS 0.51 percent fall leading the decliners.
McDonald’s (MCD.N) 0.7 percent fall weighed the most on the Dow, while Costco (COST.O) and General Mills (GIS.N) weighed the most on the sector.
Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, with claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 2,000 to 236,000 for the week ended Dec. clinique fresh pressed
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast claims rising to 240,000.
The report comes ahead of a more comprehensive government payrolls data on Friday, where investors are looking to gauge the strength of the labor market.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,299 to 1,196. On the Nasdaq, 1,238 issues rose and 1,094 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed nine new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and 16 new lows.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Ramped Up Crostini with Ricotta and Pea Shoots

Chopped ramps add crunch, bite and attitude to pristine, fluffy ricotta which is smeared over crostini and topped with a jumble of sweet pea shoots. This simple recipe highlights the freshest ingredients and the contrasting nice and naughty flavors of springtime. If you can't locate ramps in your market, then try substituting spring onions.

WHO: TasteFood lives in San Francisco and has studied at at Le Cordon Bleu.
WHAT: Springtime crostini with complex flavors that never let on how easy they are to make.
HOW: It's practically just assembly: aromatics -- ramp bulbs, lemon zest, and mint -- are stirred into ricotta that's spooned onto toasted baguette then topped with pea shoots.
WHY WE LOVE IT: You wouldn't think raw ramp bulbs would be appealing, but they are offset so well by the creamy ricotta that FOOD52er Rivka even ate them for breakfast.

Serves 8

8 - 1/2" thick slices baguette
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped ramps or green garlic, bulbs and stems only (or substitute with the bulb and pale green parts of spring onions)
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
generous handful pea shoots
1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly brush bagette slices with olive oil. Arrange on baking sheet. Bake in oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove.

Combine ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoons salt and black pepper in a bowl; mix well until light and fluffy. Stir in ramps, mint and lemon zest. Spread ricotta on baguette slices.

Top crostini with a generous pinch of pea shoots. Drizzle a little olive oil over crostini, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt and black pepper.

Everything You Need to Publish a Novel

The “Now What?” Months continue, and we’re shifting our focus to the wide world of publishing! Today, Chris Angotti, NaNoWriMo’s chief operations officer, argues that you really only need three things to publish a novel:

In January of 1977, a British punk fanzine called Sideburns published one of the most influential infographics of all-time. It featured three crude guitar diagrams, along with this annotation:

This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.

The invitation was symbolic of the emerging DIY punk aesthetic: giving readers the tools to go from fans to creators. It was an acknowledgment of amateurism and imperfection, the idea that anyone could pick up a guitar and make noise. The resulting music might be good, terrible, or just okay (this category making up the majority of late-’70s UK punk), but the method to do it was accessible to everyone.

I think about that graphic a lot, and I’m proud that NaNoWriMo exists in the same tradition. We believe that anyone can write a book, and we try to provide the stuff to make it happen. (“This is the page. This is the deadline. This is your imagination. Now write a novel.”)

Unfortunately, publishing can often feel like a whole different story. There are so many gatekeepers to getting your work out there, so many boxes to tick to be an “expert” worthy of being widely read. These gatekeepers aren’t just external, either. They’re our inner editors, and our self-senses of talent, determination, and worth.

Today, I want to give you (or remind you of) some tools to help you move forward in the publishing process. Like those three chords in Sideburns, it’s the minimum of what you need—but sometimes that’s what’s most potent.

This is self-confidence.

You remember that you already wrote a whole novel, right? And chances are, you’ve got something there, even if it needs excavation. The hard part was sitting down and getting it out; editing, pitching, and publishing are all based on the work you’ve done already. You can do this, and your story deserves to be read.

This is acceptance of imperfection.

There’s a myth that your novel needs to be 100% perfect before you submit it anywhere. Sure, it should be very solid—as solid as you can make it. But agents and editors will help you make it better. Do all you can, but don’t let the effort keep you from ever putting it out there.

This is knowledge of the field.

Want to traditionally publish? There’s no shortage of information out there, including plenty on this very blog. Know how to write a query letter and make a list of the agents (and publishers if they accept direct submissions) active in your genre, and you’re off to a fine start.

If you want to self-publish, bootstrap some expertise on the best companies out there (we work with a few), plus the design and promotion skills you’ll need for later on.

Olive Oil-Braised Broccoli Rabe

This recipe was developed by Rebekah Peppler in 2011 and published on Tasting Table. - Sarah Jampel

Serves 4 to 6

For the broccoli rabe:

1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small hot red chile, seeded and thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced into rings
2 bunches broccoli rabe, cleaned and hard, woody parts of stems removed
Freshly ground black pepper
Ricotta and baguette, for serving

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the oil, garlic, chile, and lemon and cook for 5 minutes, until the oil is shimmering and everything is just beginning to get hot and sizzle.
Add the broccoli rabe and stir to coat Stroke signs.
Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Stir the broccoli rabe, recover the pot, and cook for another 25 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve the rabe topped with the pine nut crumble (see below) and topped with dollops of ricotta cheese. Or, spread ricotta on baguette, then top it with broccoli rabe and crumble Grand Cru Cellar.

For the pine nut crumble:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cool
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, butter, pine nuts, lemon zest, parsley, and crushed red pepper Offsite Backup Strategy. Season with salt and pepper, then use your fingers to combine until large chunks form.

Spread the mixture onto the sheet pan and bake until browned and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes, mixing halfway through to prevent burning. Set aside until ready to use. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


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