Pandora Crushes Earnings; AM/FM Radio Officially Dead

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Jim Cramer repeats several key themes almost daily at TheStreet as well as on CNBC's "Mad Money" and "Squawk on the Street."

Among my favorites: Do your homework!

Jim and I take different approaches to what we do, but his Do your homework mantra reigns universal. No matter who you are or what you do -- an individual investor, an analyst, a portfolio manager, a TV personality, a guy who writes several opinion pieces a day, a salesman, a grad student, a great singer/songwriter -- that's the best advice. Do your homework!

Homework looks different for every person and across situations, but, generally speaking, as I interpret Cramer's war cry, it means Do more!

As TheStreet's Chris Ciaccia detailed Thursday afternoon, Pandora ( P) crushed Q4/year-end earnings. The stock flew, giving back virtually nothing on the news that CEO Joe Kennedy will step down upon the naming of his successor.

So much to say about this and the entire Internet radio space that I have multiple articles up ( See my article history) on the subject. Here we concentrate on the earnings and Kennedy's resignation.

If you watched my TheBeach Meets TheStreet conversation with Pandora Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Tim Westergren, you know that the founders can take credit for the Music Genome Project, but Joe Kennedy came up with the idea -- back in 2004 -- to disrupt traditional AM/FM radio. Under his leadership, Pandora accomplished that goal.

We now live in a world where terrestrial radio is, for all intents and purposes, dead. To be accurate, it's on life support. But, practically speaking, the platform has done nothing but feebly react to what Pandora and a handful of others pioneered -- Internet radio.

Soon, what we have come to take for granted as an option in a car will cease to exist -- the AM/FM dial. It will go away. Give it 10 years. If that. Traditional radio's only chance at semi-survival: More Pandora knock-offs such as Clear Channel's iHeart Radio. Or, hold your laughter, something innovative.

So Kennedy heads out a legend. This is Steve Jobs-level stuff here. Jeff Bezos level. Pandora literally turned an entire space on its ear and now it leads -- alongside Google ( GOOG), Facebook ( FB) and Twitter -- the mobile advertising revolution.

For almost two years -- between Seeking Alpha and TheStreet -- I have rebuffed the bear case on Pandora with informed opinion. Opinion informed by fact because I did my homework. I talk to the people at the company with the vision, who are executing the vision. When I disagree with a decision, I call them out on it.

But, by and large, I have been bullish.

In article after article, I referred to eMarketer's projections for mobile advertising revenue. Knowing what I know about Pandora's position in mobile and as a disruptor in radio, those were numbers you simply could not ignore. And now the story is playing out with authority.

May 8, 2012: Buy Facebook, Pandora on Mobile Dominance. At the time, Pandora traded at $8.60. Look where it is now. Fourteen bucks and change, as of after hours Thursday. A full $10 ahead of BTIG Media analyst Richard Greenfield's price target of around $4.00 per share.

Flashback to March 9, 2012 and Forbes relaying a quote from Greenfield: "We would continue to short Pandora and are maintaining our $3.75 price target." Wow. I hope he covered. Look at this chart:

P Chart P data by YCharts

Admittedly, it's ugly, but nowhere near as ugly as the losses Greenfield's firm and his clients have sustained if indeed they were short with any size whatsoever and did not cover strategically along the way.

In any event, he's not alone. Lots of people missed the mobile story.

eMarketer estimated Pandora would log $226.4 million in mobile revenue for calendar year 2012. For its fiscal year, the company recorded $255.9 million in mobile sales. And, a metric the bears chose to ignore continues to look rock solid, Mobile revenue growth at Pandora outpaces mobile listener hours.

But what's funny is that that quarter of a billion in mobile ad revenue was little more than a pilot program for Pandora. Now, radio ad buyers will finally be able to see Pandora's ratings side-by-side with FM stations and make a buy on Pandora with what amounts to the touch of a button. ( Bloomberg had that story.) Until now, it has never been that easy, in part because the terrestrial radio lobby resisted the level playing field every step of the way.

Pandora already ranks as the number one station in most major markets, making it a no-brainer over terrestrial.

Game over.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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