Audible Is Where Readers Could Be Headed

By Gene G. Marcial

Turning Up The Volume
Busy people with scant time for reading can listen to audio editions of Scientific American, Bill Clinton's book My Life, or even the Wall Street Journal through AudibleReady portable audio players. Audible (ADBL ) is the Web's largest provider of the spoken word for download and playback -- on PCs, CDs, or Audible's mobile devices.

As a pure play on the "digitalization of traditional media, Audible profits from the rapid adoption of audio players such as Apple Computer (AAPL )'s iPod,"says Mark Argento of ThinkEquity Partners, who rates Audible "overweight." It offers content through its Web site,, or Apple's iTunes service. The service is marketed through partnerships with retailers such as (AMZN ) and manufacturers like Apple, Sony (SNE ), and Microsoft (MSFT ). Users subscribe to Audible's services, or order "à la carte" content, which includes 50,000 hours of programs. Subscriptions go for $19.90 a month for two books or $14.95 for one book plus a newspaper or magazine. The Old Testament runs $120. Audible has signed up with 165 publishers.

Mark May of investment firm Kaufman Brothers figures Audible will earn 10 cents a share on sales of $31 million in 2004, and 40 cents on $44.1 million in 2005. He says Audible, trading at 11.45 on July 28, will hit 15 by mid-2005.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

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