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Pandora shares rally as analysts change tune

Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange walk past the Pandora Media logo on its first day of trading as a public company.
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Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange walk past the Pandora Media logo on its first day of trading as a public company.

Shares of Pandora rose Thursday after analysts at Axiom upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold."

The stock spiked nearly 3 percent in early trading, before losing altitude. Pandora shares ended the day up 1 percent.

Analysts at the internet media equity research firm put a $16 target on the stock, roughly $4 above its trading price Thursday. Axiom analysts said they had been neutral on the stock for years, "skeptical" of the internet radio service to navigate an increasingly competitive landscape but recently changed their tune.

"We now believe that there is a greater probability of Pandora building a successful and differentiated on-demand service while increasing the value of the core," the Axiom note said. "Users' appetite for paying for music streaming is increasing and Pandora is poised to capture share cost effectively."

The note cites a profitable core business, driven by a steady number in active users, and the company's appeal as an acquisition target. Users have warmed up to Pandora, the note said, and are seemingly more open to the streaming platform.

"This is important because this likely means that the on-going negotiations with the major labels for an on-demand service have a good chance of success," the note said.

The stock is down nearly 11 percent so far this year, and more than 30 percent year over year.