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Music Stocks Have Biggest One-Week Loss in Nine Months

Music stocks suffered their biggest one-week decline in nearly a year as inflation fears gripped the markets. In the U.S., the annualized inflation rate rose to 3.5% in March from 3.2% in February, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Wednesday. That drew concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve would alter its plan to cut interest rates in June. Combined with rising oil prices and weaker-than-expected earnings from banking giants JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo, there wasn’t much good news for investors. 

Fourteen of the 20 companies in the Billboard Global Music Index lost value this week. The index fell 3.2% to 1,782.67, the largest one-week drop since it lost 4.2% for the week ended July 28, 2023. Still, the Billboard Global Music Index is up 16.2% year to date and has increased 43% in the last 12 months. 

Most major stock indexes lost ground this week. In the U.S., the S&P 500 dropped 1.6% to 5,123.41 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.5% to 16,175.09. South Korea’s KOSPI composite index declined 1.2% to 2,681.82. China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.6% to 3,019.47. The outlier was the U.K.’s FTSE 100, which improved 1.1% to 7,995.58.

Among music stocks, iHeartMedia was the biggest winner of the week after rising 6.3% to $2.18. The improvement came despite a lack of market-moving news or regulatory filing from the radio giant. In fact, the main reason iHeartMedia has been in the news lately has been less than flattering. In March, Forbes reported that iHeartMedia had paid ad revenue from Sen. Ted Cruz’s podcast, Verdict, to his political action committee (PAC). That led BP America to request that iHeartMedia not place its ads on podcasts that funnel ad revenue to PACs. Two campaign watchdogs, Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United, allege that Cruz violated federal law and on Tuesday (April 9) formally asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the London-listed company that invests in music rights, improved 5.7% to 74 pence ($0.92). HSF has gained 7.2% since the company’s board of directors released a damning due diligence report on March 28. Conducted by Shot Tower Capital, the report claimed the fund’s investment manager, Hipgnosis Song Management, overstated revenue and misled investors about the control it had over investments in its portfolio. The board will release its conclusions to the due diligence report by April 26 and will seek shareholder approval for its proposals at a not-yet-announced extraordinary general meeting. 

Sphere Entertainment dropped 10.7% to $41.80 this week. On Monday, after Seaport Global downgraded Sphere Entertainment to neutral from a buy rating on growth concerns, the company’s share price dropped 3.8% to $45.00. The stock dropped another 5.3% on Friday despite no news or regulatory filings. U2’s 40-show residency wrapped up on Mar. 2, and the band led Billboard’s Boxscore in February with a $56.5 million ross from 10 concerts. Rock band Phish will perform a four-show run at the Sphere in Las Vegas from April 18-21. 

Believe shares dropped 9.8% to 14.88 euros ($15.88) after Warner Music Group announced on Sunday it would not bid on the Paris-listed company. Back on Mar. 7, WMG revealed its interest in acquiring Believe and stated it would pay “at least” 17 euros per share, an amount well above the 15.00 euros ($16.01) per share offer by a CEO-led consortium. Investors immediately bet WMG’s effort would prevail by bidding up Believe shares to nearly 17 euros. From Mar. 28 to April 2, Believe was trading as high as $16.92 and closed above 16.50 euros from Mar. 25 to April 5. With WMG out of the picture, the consortium’s initial offer of 15 euros per share is the new ceiling. 

The index’s most valuable companies had relatively mild declines. Universal Music Group fell 2.0% to 27.04 euros ($28.85) and Spotify dropped 3.2% to $300.53. Live Nation lost 2.4% to $100.99. CTS Eventim fell 3.8% to 82.00 euros ($87.50). HYBE declined 4.9% to 213,000 won ($154.28). After deciding not to pursue Believe, Warner Music Group bucked the trend by rising 0.3% to $33.44. 

Quarterly earnings reports will give stocks a chance to rebound in the coming weeks. Of the release dates announced thus far, Spotify is first out of the gate on April 23 followed by Believe on April 24, Deezer on April 29, SiriusXM on April 30, Universal Music Group on May 2 and Warner Music Group on May 9.

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