(Bloomberg) — Spotify Technology SA fell as much as 9%, the most since November, after its full-year revenue forecast for 2021 missed average analyst expectations.
The world’s biggest audio streaming company expects revenue for 2021 of 9.01 billion euros ($10.83 billion) to 9.41 billion euros, it said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts expected 9.28 billion euros to 10.09 billion euros, according to a consensus compiled by Bloomberg.
Spotify said that while it remains optimistic about business trends this year, “we face increased forecasting uncertainty versus prior years due to the unknown duration of the pandemic and its ongoing effect on user, subscriber, and revenue growth.”
The downbeat outlook came after fourth-quarter results that exceeded analysts’ estimates. The Swedish company added 25 million customers in the period to reach 345 million monthly active users, ahead of the expected 343 million. And total premium subscribers reached 155 million, up 24% year-over-year.
Still, more important to investors is what those customers are paying. Average monthly revenue per user fell to 4.26 euros. Record labels have long complained that Spotify is practically giving away the service in many places. The company just raised prices in Canada, however, and introduced its service in South Korea without a free tier.
While Spotify suffered from a brief drop in use in the early months of the pandemic, the company has rebounded in recent months and is now seeing record listening. Its recent expansion to Russia and 12 other countries accelerated user growth, especially outside North America and Europe.
Spotify’s advertising business has also rebounded after a dip during the early months of the pandemic. Ad sales reached 281 million euros, led by the podcast business, which grew 100% over the past year. Sales had slipped by 21% in the second quarter of 2020, and grew in just single digits in the third quarter.
“We continue to see strong growth in podcast consumption, with consumption hours in Q4 nearly doubling since Q4 2019,” Spotify said in the statement. “As of Q4, we had 2.2 million podcasts on the platform (up from more than 1.9 million podcasts in Q3).”
In its full-year 2021 guidance, Spotify said it expected total users across ad-supported and premium accounts of 407 million to 427 million. Of these, premium would account for 172 million to 184 million, it said. However, it forecast a loss for the year of 200 million euros to 300 million euros.
Spotify was down 6.9% to $321.25 at 9:39 a.m. in New York. The shares had climbed 9.7% in 2021 through Tuesday after more than doubling last year.
(Updates with shares from first paragraph.)
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