LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Streaming music leader Spotify said on Thursday it has a clear path to profit as it spelled out to investors its growth plans and how it aims to fend off big rivals Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc ahead of an April 3 listing.
Chief Executive Daniel Ek made a direct pitch to retail investors during a public webcast that stood in place of a traditional closed-door “road show” typically used to woo institutional investors in initial public offerings (IPOs).
The Stockholm-based company’s stock will hit the public markets in a unusual direct listing without traditional underwriters. Spotify must convince investors that its business is sound and that investors who buy shares in the public market debut won’t be hurt by unexpected volatility.
“You won’t see us ringing any bells or throwing any parties,” Ek said. “Since Spotify isn’t selling any stock in the listing, we’re really entirely focused on the long-term performance of the business.”
Ek portrayed Spotify as an underdog not tied to a major technology company. He pointed out that Spotify has more than twice as many paying users as its nearest rival, Apple, and that its strategy is to be an ubiquitous music service across phones, smart speakers and desktops from various makers.
Because the company will not issue any new shares, it did not specify a listing price. Based on private transactions, it is valued at roughly $19 billion, according to Reuters calculations. It has hired brokerage Morgan Stanley to match buy and sell orders to set its opening trading price.
Spotify has warned investors it faces a variety of risks.
It says the royalty costs it pays to artists and publishers are so difficult to calculate that in the past it has been unsure how much it owed, prompting what are known as “material weaknesses in internal controls” for each of the past three years with the danger of more in the future.
In addition, its music services are primarily delivered over devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Amazon.com’s Echo series of speakers, which could emphasize their own services over Spotify’s.
“Operating losses have grown with revenue, but the trend towards profitability is clear when you look at operating losses as a percentage of revenue,” the company said in the presentation in New York.
Revenue grew 39 percent to 4.09 billion euros ($5.04 billion) in 2017 from 2.95 billion euros in 2016, it said in a securities filing. At the same time, net financing costs of 855 million euros pushed up operating losses to 378 million euros from 349 million euros.
Reporting by Eric Auchard in London and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Susan Thomas and Peter Henderson