I spend a lot of my time looking for "anomalies" in the tech market because they can lead to massive profit opportunities.
And there's one I see right now.
It involves a new market that's worth $970 million – even though it's still in its infancy. Of course, there are a number of players in this market. But it's the two top leaders I want to talk to you about today.
You see, one has lousy fundamentals – with stunning cash losses that continue to mount. The other is cash-rich with a rapidly growing subscriber base.
Yet Wall Street adores the first one (the one with the lousy fundamentals) – and hates the second, which is exactly the opposite of how you would think it should be.
Today, I'm going to tell you all about this exciting new market and why you should consider making a play in it right away.
And then I'm going to tell you which of these top leaders is one of the best stocks to buy now – in fact, you could ride it for a double by Spring.
The "Internet Radio" Wars
The sector I'm talking about is the Internet Radio market.
It's an explosive new market that I follow with great interest not just because of the outstanding investing potential (analysts project sales to grow to $1.31 billion by 2016), but also for purely personal reasons.
You see, I'm a former musician – I'm a guitar player and had my own rock band for a dozen years. I don't play much anymore… but, of course, I'm still a huge music buff.
And I've followed the growth of Internet Radio as well as digital music distribution since the time it dawned in the late 1990s. Indeed, as a former musician I quickly grasped just how big a role this new format would be through online music streaming.
So, you can imagine how excited I was when I first heard about Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P). The Web-based service represents some truly great technology…
It's based on something called the Music Genome Project, and the idea here is simple in its elegance – every song ever recorded has very distinct traits that form its "DNA."
The Music Genome software behind Pandora analyzes 400 musical attributes. These cover everything from the type of melody, harmony, and rhythm to musical form, composition, and, of course, lyrics.
With Pandora, you can launch what amounts to your own Internet music channel with just one song or artist. Pandora thinks of this as a "seed" that automatically programs the station for you.
So, you end up hearing lots of your favorites while discovering dozens of new artists along the way.
Now, I admit: I listen to Pandora daily. But as much as I love and use the technology, I can't in good conscience recommend the stock.
By all means, listen to Pandora on your iPad all day long, but when it comes to investing your hard-earned money, Pandora is the Wall Street "darling" you want to run away from as quickly as possible.
The problem with Pandora is simple. The company is growing like a weed – but costs are rising much faster – and the losses continue to mount.
Take a look at its most recent quarter. Pandora's sales grew 50% from the year-ago period to $181.6 million, with mobile ad revenue up 58% to roughly $105 million.
But higher costs across the board resulted in a net loss of $1.7 million! (Compare that to a year-ago profit of $2 million.)
Even worse, for the first nine months of its Fiscal 2014, losses stand at $38 million – a stunning 61% rise from its nine-month losses in the previous fiscal year.
Yet, astoundingly, with Wall Street's help, the stock is up some 250% in 2013.
Since April, six analysts have initiated positive coverage of Pandora. While it's true one analyst recently downgraded it to a hold… two more have upgraded the stock to a buy.
The fact is, if you simply follow the "noise" generated around this company, you'd be convinced it was a no-brainer investment.
But if you ask me, Pandora fits squarely as an example of my Tech Wealth Rule # 2: Separate The Signals From The Noise.
My rule clearly states: If you really want to get wealthy from technology stocks, you need to think for yourself.
And, I believe that based on Pandora's poor financial performance, Wall Street has this one all wrong. Quite simply, the stock has run too far too fast and is poised for a decline.
That's why I think investors would do better to consider the other company in this battle for supremacy in the quickly expanding Internet Radio market.
About the Author
Michael A. Robinson is one of the top financial analysts working today. His book "Overdrawn: The Bailout of American Savings" was a prescient look at the anatomy of the nation's S&L crisis, long before the word "bailout" became part of our daily lexicon. He's a Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and reporter, lauded by the Columbia Journalism Review for his aggressive style. His 30-year track record as a leading tech analyst has garnered him rave reviews, too. Today he is the editor of the monthly tech investing newsletter Nova-X Report as well as Radical Technology Profits, where he covers truly radical technologies – ones that have the power to sweep across the globe and change the very fabric of our lives – and profit opportunities they give rise to. He also explores "what's next" in the tech investing world at Strategic Tech Investor.