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Pandora Crashes, But Is It Dead?

Tickers in this article: NFLX P FB AAPL
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Pandora (P) reported a quarterly profit. And nobody cares.

That's because the company slashed Q4 guidance, citing concern from advertisers over the fiscal cliff.

Of course, this turn of events -- as is protocol -- led Pandora's stock to crash. If history repeats, it will rebound over the next several weeks until something else "bad" happens -- say Apple (AAPL) launching iRadio -- only to crash again.

This is a fantastic day trader's or swing trader's stock. Unless you have a world of patience, an ultra-bullish take on Pandora's future and, preferably, more-than-average covered call writing capability, Pandora is an awful stock for most long-term investors.

It requires nerves of steel and sleeping pills; two things your financial advisor -- even if the little man inside you plays that role -- should never have to prescribe.

It's not dead, but, listen, you either need to trade this thing or own it for another 1 to 3 years, knowing full well that it's a classic case of massive risk in exchange for an only halfway decent potential for massive reward. That's the definition of a highly speculative stock that should comprise a very small portion of your portfolio.

That said -- there might not be a more misunderstood company than Pandora. Last night, I followed the earnings postmortem and not one bit of it gets past the standard focus on short-term noise.

The problems Pandora faces out on sales calls, re: the fiscal cliff, are real. This is exactly the type of holdup the gridlock in Washington causes. While I don't agree with decision makers who use the fiscal cliff as an excuse not to invest in their businesses -- in fact, I think they're losers -- the reality is what it is. This thing puts a drag on economic expansion.

But, that's part of the noise. It's temporary stuff. It says nothing about Pandora's business model, which, by and large, works.

The company continues to pioneer mobile monetization alongside the Twitter powerhouse and Facebook's (FB) emerging platform .

Mobile revenue was up 112% year-over-year to $73 million for Q3.

Listener hours continue to soar, as Pandora now commands 7.09% share of all radio listening, up from 4.32% the same time last year.

Pandora and Music Royalties

The fly in the ointment -- content acquisition costs. For Q3 -- and all of this data is available at Pandora's investor relations Web site -- Pandora paid close to $66 million in music royalties. That's roughly 55% of revenue.

I have published several articles on the fight that's happening in Congress, including, most recently Absolutely Horrible News For Pandora and Spotify Has The Bad Business Model, Not Pandora .

I will continue to write about it, but it takes more than one article or a sound bite to make sense of such a historically-rooted, emotionally-charged and complex issue. It needs to be a conversation. One that requires patience and is comfortable calling it a night with unanswered questions lingering.

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