Spotify reports strong quarter, tightened spending after investor scrutiny

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Spotify reports strong quarter, tightened spending after investor scrutiny

Daniel Ek, CEO of Swedish music streaming service Spotify, gestures as he makes a speech at a press conference in Tokyo on September 29, 2016.

Toru Yamanaka | AFP | Getty Images

Spotify reported first quarter earnings on Tuesday, notching record quarterly profit and beating estimates on the top and bottom lines, after a year of deep cost-cutting and streamlining.

Here’s how the company did, compared with analyst expectations:

  • Earnings per share: 97 cents vs. 65 cents expected by LSEG analysts
  • Revenue: $3.64 billion vs. $3.61 billion expected by LSEG analysts
  • Monthly active users (MAUs): 615 million vs. 618 million estimated by StreetAccount

Spotify shares jumped more than 10% on the news. The company also beat guidance on quarterly gross margin.

The streaming giant went into cost-cutting mode last year, laying off more than a quarter of its headcount, according to industry tracker Layoffs.fyi. Spotify resigned a marquee deal with controversial podcaster Joe Rogan earlier this year but otherwise significantly pared back its ambitions in the podcast business.

Spotify also issued guidance for the upcoming quarter. The company expects net new MAUs of 16 million, for a total of 631 million monthly active users. It also guided to an improved gross margin of 28.1%, driven by business-wide cost improvements.

“Overall, we are encouraged by the strong start to the year and view the business as well positioned to deliver on the goals outlined at our 2022 Investor Day,” the company told shareholders in a presentation.

Many of the changes the company made in the last 12 months came after Mason Morfit’s ValueAct disclosed a stake in the company in February 2023 and publicly called for spending rationalization. Spotify laid off 17% of its staff by the end of the year.

Spotify’s business itself also showed growth, with MAUs growing 19% year-over-year and 2% compared to the prior quarter. Still, the company missed its MAU guidance by 3 million users. Spotify attributed the slowed growth to “moderated marketing activity” — driven by cost-cutting — resulting in “more normalized growth.”

ValueAct, which manages nearly $12 billion in assets, has a 0.5% Spotify stake valued at $280 million. When the activist investor first disclosed the position in 2023, it owned around 1.2% of Spotify. The value of its initial investment has more than doubled, according to FactSet estimates.

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