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Why I Am Buying Pandora at Any Price

Stocks in this article: P AAPL SIRI CMG

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I take equal amounts of heat from tortured Sirius XM (SIRI) bulls and investors who would not understand what a perpetual startup is if Steve Jobs stood in front of them and explained.

These folks chide me because I have been purchasing shares of Pandora (P) since last year at prices between $8 and $15 apiece. And, barring an unforeseen and wholesale change to the company's long-term narrative on earnings next week, I will continue to buy Pandora at any price.

Using Tuesday's closing price of $10.83, P is up 38.3% since posting a 52-week low of $7.83 intraday on April 18. Pick a peer, any peer and Pandora has outperformed it over that time frame. For example, SIRI is down 10.4% since its April 18 intraday low. Even Apple (AAPL) is off by a scary 8.2%.

While it's fun to pull these types of numbers and claim short-term bragging rights, I tend not to let the practice cloud my logic, judgment or long-term conviction. It never hurts to know where you stand, but you must realize that a stock like Pandora can lose 40% just as fast (and even faster) as it gained it.

Pandora is not Sirius XM. It is not Apple. It sits at a stage of development Apple has already seen and SIRI bulls will never have a chance of seeing, particularly with Mel Karmazin at the lead.

Perpetual Start-Up

Steve Jobs ran Apple as a perpetual startup. Canadian thinker and marketer Mitch Joel relays words that provide a nice working meaning of the term:

It's hard for people who have traditionally had a job to think like an entrepreneur, but it's more critical than ever. I often tell people that an entrepreneur is someone who is trying to create the future that doesn't yet exist, while a businessperson is someone who is trying to mitigate risk and minimize mistakes.

Steve Jobs was an entrepreneur. It even said so on his death certificate. Mel Karmazin is a businessperson. And that's exactly how he should and will be remembered.

Make no mistake about it. Pandora co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren is an entrepreneur.

I am tough on Sirius XM, in part, because there's so much potential there, particularly with a talent like Howard Stern under contract. But, in the absence of any forward-looking vision or meaningful marketing activities, I am not sure if anyone can salvage anything from the slow-growth wreckage Karmazin prepares to leave behind.

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