Spotify Guidance Spooks Market as Rogan Crisis Rumbles on

As the ruckus over Joe Rogan's podcast continues, the platform’s anticipated subscriber growth is below market – and Morningstar’s own analysts’ – expectations

Jocelyn Jovene 3 February, 2022 | 11:30AM
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Joe Rogan

No-moat music platform Spotify (SPOT) has released disappointing earnings guidance for the first quarter of 2022, amid a crisis over its hosting of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

Shares, which were already down 6% on 2 February, are now down 9% in after-hours trading on the New York Stock Exchange, where the Swedish company is listed.

Morningstar analyst Neil Macker summarises the situation:

“Shares traded off sharply in aftermarket trading as the firm provided relatively weak user guidance for the first quarter – 183 million premium users and 418 million monthly active user – well below our previous expectations of 191 million and 444 million, respectively.”

This latest update lands as the company attempts to contain the fallout from a controversy involving Joe Rogan, the US shockjock podcaster accused by various celebrities of spreading misinformation about Covid-19 on his show.

Last week, the majority of Neil Young’s back catalogue was removed from Spotify after the Canadian rocker refused to be hosted on the same platform as Rogan. Other musicians, including Joni Mitchell, offered up support and similar ultimatums. 

On a call with analysts, Spotify founder and chief executive Daniel Ek said he wasn’t sure what the precise impact of the controversy might be on the company’s performance.

“In general, what I would say [is] it’s too early to know what the impact may be,” he said.

“Usually when we’ve had controversies in the past, those are measured in months and not days. But I feel good about where we are in relation to that, and obviously top-line trends look very healthy still.”

Spotify is not alone in issuing concerning earnings guidance. Highly profitable companies like narrow-moat PayPal (PYPL) and wide-moat Meta Platforms (FB) have both suffered from negative market sentiment after they issued disappointing figures.

On 2 February PayPal lost 24% of its market value after the publication of its fourth quarter earnings. Shares in Facebook owner Meta Platforms, meanwhile, fell about 20% after it missed earnings forecasts.

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Jocelyn Jovene

Jocelyn Jovene  is Senior Financial Analyst and Senior Editor for Morningstar France.

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