Spotify shares attract all ages, not only millennials

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Prospective investors expressed concerns about Spotify's lack of profits.
Prospective investors expressed concerns about Spotify's lack of profits.

The buzzy debut of Spotify Technology SA on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Tuesday drew retail investors across generations, not only the millennials who make up the largest proportion of the music streaming service's customer base, retail brokerages said yesterday.

Spotify's listing was hotly followed, as it went public via the unusual method of a direct listing, without selling new shares. There was demand for the stock, and shares ended up 12.9% on their first day of trade on the NYSE. On Wednesday, the shares ended the day's session at $145.87, down 2.1% from Tuesday's close.

Social media platform Snap's high-profile IPO last year had been notable for being popular with millennials, the primary user base for the company's mobile app Snapchat. But though millennials are also a key demographic for Spotify, the Swedish company's listing did not draw disproportionate interest from that generation.

Demand was seen across age groups, according to brokerages Fidelity and TD Ameritrade.

"There's good interest in it," said JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade's chief market strategist, who is based in Chicago. "It's pretty well split across age groups."

Fidelity said among its customers, baby boomers were slightly more active in trading Spotify shares than millennials or members of Generation X. Baby boomers made nearly one-third more trades than millennials and 20% more trades than members of Generation X. A similar pattern holds for other tech IPOs, a Fidelity spokesman said.

Retail investor behaviour indicated some caution about jumping in.

On StockTwits, a social media platform whose users are mostly retail investors, only 40% of members were bullish on Spotify ahead of the debut. Negative sentiment toward the IPO rose as the date approached and the expected trading price climbed, said Pierce Crosby, StockTwits director of business development, based in New York.

"Our community is as bearish as they've ever been [about Spotify]," Crosby said.

On the site, users posted messages expressing concerns about Spotify's lack of profits and competition from companies such as Apple.

High-profile IPOs of companies associated with the tech sector have had a mixed track record in the past year. Shares of MuleSoft and Roku, which went public in March 2017 and September 2017, respectively, have climbed more than 100% since those companies' IPOs. On the other hand, shares of Snap and Blue Apron Holdings have fallen below their IPO prices.

Individual investors who spoke with Reuters similarly expressed reservations about buying Spotify shares.

"I think a lot of similarly situated retail investors still view many of the VC-backed, marketplace tech companies as destined IPO flops," said Layla Tabatabaie, an entrepreneur and advisor to tech start-ups who lives in New York.

Others said they would only consider buying the stock at a lower price.

"It's certainly a strong company in regards to the service it offers," said Jonathan Johnson, a relationship banker in Portland, Oregon. "I'd consider buying it but not at these [price] levels."

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