NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- JPMorgan has thrown its weight behind Pandora (P), reiterating an "overweight" rating and raising its price target to $35 from $25. Shares of the leading radio streaming service soared 6.7% to $31.43, after the investment firm said advertising growth and the company's strength in the face of Apple's (AAPL) iTunes Radio threat were encouraging.
"We believe Pandora is approaching an inflection point in monetization, driven by the combined benefits of its growing market share, buy-side platform integration, and expanding salesforce," analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in the research report. The big driver, he says, is ad revenue growth, expected to accelerate 51% year-over-year over 2014.
TheStreet's Rocco Pendola, a long-time supporter of the brand, called it four days ago after predicting shares were headed north of $30.
"Given the company's superiority (and technological head start) as a personalized radio and music discovery platform, there's no way even fine products from Apple, Rdio and others can touch Pandora," he said in his column Monday.
What sets the leading radio streaming service apart from your iTunes Radio or Rdio, he argues, is the Music Genome Project, a music mapping tool which isolates sounds and styles to recommend music. Rdio and iHeart music discovery engines are powered by Echo Nest, which groups by artist or genre, making for a less-intuitive, more-generic experience.
Though Apple has stayed mum on its music discovery engine, iTunes Radio doesn't have the brand loyalty of Pandora. While investors had jitters when Apple stomped into the space, Pandora has already made fingerprints on users' iPhones and iPads, its app ready to launch and easy to use.