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Redburn Atlantic Downgrades Spotify, Citing Risks to Audiobook Expansion Plans

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Redburn Atlantic Downgrades Spotify, Citing Risks to Audiobook Expansion Plans

Redburn Atlantic, a financial firm, has downgraded Spotify, the popular music streaming giant, to a neutral rating and lowered its price target from $170 to $160. This decision comes as Spotify makes efforts to expand its audiobook offerings to subscribers. While Spotify's stock has seen significant growth of over 103% in 2023, Redburn Atlantic believes that the move into audiobooks poses risks for the company.

Challenges to Margin Expansion

Analyst Agnieszka Pustula from Redburn Atlantic explains that the introduction of audiobooks does not align with the firm's original forecast for margin expansion. Instead, it may have a dilutive effect on Spotify's profitability. Pustula estimates that the immediate costs of audiobook royalties for the UK and Australia launch will reach approximately €80 million, with an additional €180 million in costs for the US market. These expenses could potentially erode 200 basis points of gross margin. Furthermore, Pustula predicts that new subscribers who immediately take up audiobooks would generate negative gross margins.

Competition with Amazon

Pustula highlights the risk of increased competition from Amazon, the current market leader in audiobooks. If Amazon responds by bundling its audiobook service, Audible, with Amazon Music, it could diminish Spotify's competitive advantage and pricing power in the audiobook market. The analyst warns that Spotify's strategic move into audiobooks, while important in the long-term, could inadvertently give Amazon an even greater advantage. In conclusion, Redburn Atlantic's downgrade of Spotify reflects concerns about the risks associated with the company's expansion into audiobooks. The potential impact on margin expansion and the threat of increased competition from Amazon are key factors contributing to this decision. While Spotify's move into audiobooks may have long-term strategic significance, careful consideration of the risks and potential consequences is necessary for the company's future success.

Spotify's Audiobook Expansion: A Risky Move for New Businesses?

Redburn Atlantic's downgrade of Spotify, amid its move to expand into audiobooks, raises significant questions for new businesses in the digital content industry. The firm's decision to lower Spotify's rating from $170 to $160 highlights potential risks associated with diversifying into new content areas.

Margin Expansion Concerns

According to Redburn Atlantic analyst Agnieszka Pustula, Spotify's foray into audiobooks could negatively impact the company's profitability. The estimated immediate costs of audiobook royalties for launches in the UK, Australia, and the US could significantly erode gross margins. This concern is particularly relevant for new businesses considering a similar expansion, as it underscores the importance of thoroughly assessing the financial implications of diversification.

Increased Competition

Another critical factor is the potential for increased competition. Pustula warns that Amazon, the current market leader in audiobooks, could respond to Spotify's move by bundling its Audible service with Amazon Music. Such a move could diminish Spotify's competitive advantage and pricing power in the audiobook market. For new businesses, this scenario underscores the need to carefully evaluate competitive landscapes when considering expansion into new content areas. In essence, Redburn Atlantic's downgrade of Spotify serves as a cautionary tale for new businesses. While diversification can be a strategic move for long-term growth, it's crucial to carefully consider the potential risks, financial implications, and competitive dynamics. The case of Spotify's audiobook expansion highlights the importance of these considerations in ensuring sustainable business success.
Story First Published at: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/10/09/redburn-atlantic-downgrades-spotify-cites-risks-to-audiobook-expansion-plans.html
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