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Spotify electrifies on its metrics. Time to buy?

Spotify stock price

Global streaming audio platform Spotify Technology SA (NASDAQ: SPOT) had an impressive third quarter of 2023. Its metrics have improved, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into its platform is making noticeable improvements in its business. Spotify has used personalization as a key growth driver, and AI is a large part of that.

Spotify grew its monthly active users (MAUs) by 26% YoY to 574 million in the quarter.

The company also raised its MAU estimates by over 3 million users above analyst estimates for Q4 2023. It expects to reach one billion users by 2030.  

AI integration bolsters Spotify operations and user experience.

Generative AI has been integrated into its platform in many ways. AI creates a personalized experience for individual users with music recommendations based on their history and preferences. AI creates personalized playlists like Daily Mix and Discover Weekly. In a survey, 81% of its users cited personalization as the most admired feature of its service.

How AI is improving advertising spend and lowering costs

AI is used for improved ad targeting based on user history, preferences, geographies and demographics. This is to match up users who may be more interested in selective advertiser products and services. This makes the ad spend more productive for brands. Generative AI is being used to create audio ads tailored to each individual.

Generative AI enables the cost of ad creatives to come down while scaling it in numerous ways. It enables the company to use the same voice actor to do a single recording that can be translated into multiple languages and tweaked and tailored to the individual to generate thousands of different ads from a single voice.

King of the streaming music mountain

Spotify is the global leader in the streaming music and audio segment. Spotify has over 100 million tracks, five million podcast titles and over 350,000 audiobooks. It holds a 30.5% market share, followed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Apple Music service at 13.7%, and Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) Amazon Music service at 13.3%.

It also faces competition from Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI), and iHeartMedia Inc. (NASDAQ: IHRT).

Premium subscription versus ad-supported

Spotify’s premium subscriptions drive nearly 87% of total sales compared to 13% for its ad-supported free streaming service. However, premium subscription revenues experienced slight deceleration with 16% growth to 226 million users versus the 32% YoY growth for ad-supported.

Spotify raised the price for its individual subscription plans in the U.S. over 50 markets for the first time and didn't see any meaningful net subscriber drop. Premium users as a percentage of monthly active users has been falling compared to the rest of the world (ROW) region. ROW saw its MAU mix rise from 13% in Q1 2019 to 31% in Q3 2023.

Gross margins trending higher into 2024

Spotify grew gross margins 40 bps higher than its estimates to 26.4%, expected to continue in 2024. Music gross margins rose 29.1%, driven by Marketplace. Ad revenues gross margins climbed 9.3% in the past 1.5 years. The podcast has dragged gross margins, but it's expected to break even soon.

Improving financials

On Oct. 24, 2023, Spotify released its fiscal third-quarter 2023 results for the quarter ending September 2022. Revenues grew 10.6% YoY to eur3.36 billion, beating consensus analyst estimates of eur3.33 billion. The Company reported GAAP EPS of eur0.33, excluding non-recurring items versus consensus analyst estimates for a loss of  (eur0.22), beating estimates by eur0.55.

Monthly active users (MAUs) rose 26% to 574 million, beating analyst estimates of 572 million. Premium subscribers rose 16% YoY to 226 million users. The company announced the launch of its groundbreaking audiobooks for premium subscribers.

Spotify CEO and founder Daniel Ek commented, “In the first two weeks since launch, premium subs in these two markets love the breadth of titles and have already listened to over 28% of the catalog. They're flocking to fiction, memoirs, sci-fi and fantasy. And I can't wait to see what US subscribers gravitate towards when we launch there soon.”

In-line guidance

Spotify provided in-line guidance for Q4 2023 with revenues of eur3.7 billion versus eur3.69 billion consensus analyst estimates. The company expects MAUs of 601 million, 3 million more than consensus analyst estimates. Total premium users are expected to rise to 235 million, and gross margins of 26.6%. 

Bank of America reiterates buy rating

The strong Q3 2023 performance earned Spotify a Bank of America reiteration of its Buy rating and a price target of $185. The firm cited that the deeper penetration in existing markets and improved advertising coupled with price hikes should continue to improve its margins. All key metrics came in ahead of Bank of America's estimates.

Spotify's Q4 2023 estimates exceed the bank's targets of EUR3.7 billion in revenues, 586 million users, and 233 million premium subscribers. It also expects to witness the full impact of Spotify's price increases in the fourth quarter.

Spotify Technology analyst ratings and price targets are at MarketBeat. Spotify Technology peers and competitor stocks can be found with the MarketBeat stock screener.

Spotify Stock chart

Daily symmetrical triangle

The daily candlestick chart on SPOT illustrates a symmetrical triangle pattern. This pattern comprises a descending upper trendline and an ascending lower trendline at the apex point. As the stock progresses toward the apex point, it will either break out through the upper trendline or down through the lower trendline.

Symmetrical triangles usually make three points of contact before breaking. SPOT gapped over $171 on its earnings report, indicating a breakout. However, shares have experienced a reversion back to retest the gap fill and bounce off the daily market structure low (MSL) trigger at $159.67. The relative strength index (RSI) is still attempting to coil above the 50-band. Pullback support levels are at $151.11, $145.79, $133.88 and $129.23.

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