There’s a debate right now on Wall Street about whether Spotify Technologystock is worth buying at current prices. Trading at about $136 per share, Spotify stock is down 18% from its IPO price a year ago, when it went public at $165.90 per share.
We highlighted the risks of Spotify stock (SPOT) in our recent cover story. But in an email, the company’s top institutional shareholder laid out his case for why the stock is a smart play for patient investors.
James Anderson is the head of global equities for Scottish money manager Baillie Gifford. Baillie Gifford owns 10.4% of Spotify, second only to Spotify co-founder Martin Lorentzon, according to the most recent public filings.
Anderson’s case acknowledges the uncertainty around the stock, but points toward longer-term value that he thinks Wall Street is missing. Read his case below:
“1) The starting point for us in any company is that we are looking for the potential for the type of extreme, compounding long term upside that dominates market returns. We do not believe in certainty (and anyhow it would be useless as the market would recognize it) and in contrast we like uncertainty (‘debate’) as it scares too many and too much.
2) all this requires a long time horizon from us and a realization that bad things always happen but more importantly it needs a manager (founder?) who is similarly disposed and in addition has vision and can adjust to take advantage of the burgeoning opportunities. It won’t surprise that we think Daniel Ek is just this person. We’ve had this view for several years and have been shareholders since well before the IPO. So far our experience has endorsed this perspective. My take is that Ek will probably be the most important European business leader of the next 30 years.
3) taking in piracy, labels, Apple , Amazon and Tencent is quite a list! Leadership, focus, the quality and ubiquity across platforms of the platform matter a lot but so too does the eventual capacity to reshape the entire industry in unexpected ways so…
4) our view of the contest with the labels within this is that it’s going about as expected: the overall industry is back to health because of all the participants. Streaming is the core of this therefore gradually, very gradually Spotify increases its relative strength but just as critically…
5) eventually it can reshape the industry: it reinvents it by moving to a much broader list and geography of musicians (South America classic but happening in general but look at India progress without the labels) and providing better data and better marketing. Thus musicians come on side and big name back catalogues are less important.
6) podcasts are but part of a broader opportunity. Ek has been saying to us for years that audio is far too small relative to seeing (10% of the value at most) and doesn’t reflect either time spent or the troubles of internet privacy and discontent. The next generation listens more than it looks. Again this is decades ahead not instant but podcasts are a good lead indicator.
7) so our conclusion is that Spotify has the platform to have a chance to be one of the great companies and stocks of the next 20 years and more. There will be challenges aplenty but they’ve got the leadership, the platform and the patience to get there. We’ll enjoy helping them.”
Spotify stock closed down 2.7% on Monday, to $135.92 per share.