The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Pandora Media, Apple, Google, Sirius XM and Arthur J. Gallagher

Dec 24, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Dec. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Pandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P-Free Report), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report), Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI-Free Report) and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG-Free Report).


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Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Pandora Loses Rights in License Dispute

Internet radio companyPandora Media Inc. (NYSE: P-Free Report) is currently tangled in a licensing dispute with Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a songwriters group, in trying to gain access to the works excluded from the group's recent media offerings.

Pandora suffered a setback when U.S. District Judge Louis L. Stanton rejected Pandora's request to honor its license for all of BMI's work in spite of the publishers' efforts to modify their contracts to exclude Internet streaming.

The District Judge ruled that publishers can use their discretion to license or not to license the performance of their compositions and that copyright holders such as BMI have the right to withdraw their composition from Internet streaming.

BMI works as an intermediary between songwriters and organizations that wish to play their music on a publicly traded platform. The firm handles rights of around 8.5 million musical works created by more than 600,000 songwriters, along with the composers and music publishers. In order to safeguard the interest of all these music professionals, the company sued Pandora in June over a royalty fee disagreement.

We note that in September, Pandora won a court order against the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which was trying to limit the number of songs licensed to Pandora. This helped Pandora to access the song resources at ease.

Pandora continues to strengthen its position in the U.S. web-based radio market, as listening hours jumped 18% to 1.49 billion in Nov 2013 from the year-ago month . Listening hours were also slightly better than 1.47 billion reported in October.

Additionally, Pandora's share of total U.S. radio listening market surged to 8.44% compared to 7.17% in the year-ago month and 8.10% in Oct 2013. Some of these positive developments were also reflected in Pandora's share price, which moved up 4.41% to reach a level of $28.20 as of Dec 19, 2013.

Moreover, Pandora also has a first mover's advantage in the music streaming industry. We believe that the company already has a popular service, driven by its effective discovery engine and a well-established infrastructure, which place it well to compete against the likes of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL-Free Report), Spotify, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG-Free Report) and Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI-Free Report).

Although the recent court ruling acts as a dampener for Pandora, we believe that itis poised for growth in the long run.

Currently, Pandora has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Another Acquisition for AJG

With another acquisition by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG-Free Report), the insurance broker's tally for the fourth quarter reached eight.

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. acquired Houston-based Barmore Insurance Agency Inc., for an undisclosed amount in a bid to fortify its presence in Texas.

Founded in 1952, Barmore Insurance Agency operates as an insurance broker and offers retail and wholesale commercial property and casualty, risk management and employee benefits products and services to its middle-market clients across the south-central United States. Barmore Insurance Agency specializes in engineering, construction, public entity, non-profits and industrial coverage.

The acquisition is expected to enrich Arthur J. Gallagher's wide range of insurance products and services besides strengthening its client base in Texas.

Post the acquisition, employees of Barmore Insurance Agency will continue to work in their current location, led by Mike Henthorn, the south-central region head of retail property and casualty brokerage operations of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

Arthur J. Gallagher's inorganic growth profile is fueled by its continuous acquisition activities. Quarter–to date tally already touched third quarter count and compares favorably with second quarter's count. Annualized revenues from eight acquisitions in the third quarter were $135.5 million, comparing favorably with $35.9 million in annualized revenues from five acquisitions in the second quarter.

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.'s strong financial position continues to support its robust acquisition strategy.

No momentum in the earnings estimate was observed over the past week for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 and 2014 is currently pegged at $2.14 and $2.52, respectively. With optimism over the current acquisitions and solid execution, we expect estimates to be revised upwards in the coming weeks, thus exerting an upward pressure on the Zacks Rank. Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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