There's major upside to SIRI shares for two main reasons
There's major upside to SIRI shares for two main reasons October 13, 2010 | By Hilary Kramer, Editor, GameChangers
Nobody has been a bigger bull on Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) than me. Since we launched our Breakout Stocks Under $5 advisory service on June 1, I have been beating the drum in defense of Sirius stock for two reasons. The company I see boasts one of the most brilliant and cunning CEOs in the history of media — Melvin Alan "Mel" Karmazin. He began selling radio ads at the age of 17 and worked his way up to CEO of Infinity Broadcasting which he sold to Westinghouse (the then parent of CBS) and subsequently served as CEO of CBS Radio and ultimately, President of CBS Corporation (owned by Viacom).
Don Imus called Karamzin “The Zen Master,” and if I were Howard Stern, I would call him “sugar daddy” — at a salary of $500 million for five years for only a few hours a day of talking, could you think of a better nickname! But, seriously, here is a company with talent at the helm, as well as entertaining, diversified and unique programming that attracts captive vehicle drivers. Karmazin signed on NASCAR and Martha Stewart, and, just as importantly, inked agreements with BMW and Ford to include Sirius XM in all their cars. Hey, this is the place where David Arquette gave a shockingly truthful interview on Howard Stern’s radio show — opening up about his affair with waitress Jasmine Waltz and his trial separation from wife Courteney Cox. And Sirius XM was also the source of the fatal interview that Rick Sanchez gave on Stand Up! with Pete Dominick in which Sanchez labeled Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart a “bigot” and suggested that a lot of other networks were controlled by Jewish people like Stewart.
Okay, so what does the other side of Wall Street see when they analyze Sirius XM? They see a company that is held captive by Howard Stern and other essential talents, $3.2 billion in outstanding debt and increasingly independent car companies that need incentives to offer Sirius XM.
But what do I see?
Growth. And, the numbers released today were impressive — Sirius XM Radio is closing in on the 20 million subscriber mark, ending its third quarter with a record-high 19.9 million subscribers. The service released the subscriber figures today — ahead of its third-quarter earnings report in November.
For the quarter, Sirius XM added 334,727 net subscribers, triple the 102,295 in the same quarter last year. In the first nine months of the year, Sirius XM has added more than 1 million subscribers, compared to a loss of 488,126 subscribers during the first three quarters of 2009. Even bigger news is that Sirius XM forecasts ending the year with 20.1 million subscribers. Churn also came down to 1.9% for the third quarter, compared to 2% a year ago.
Conversions from car sales, which include a subscription to Sirius XM, improved in the quarter to 48.1 percent versus 46.2 percent a year ago. As for that debt burden, even that is under control now. Sirius also said today that it intends to offer up to $550 million aggregate principal amount of Senior Notes due 2018 in an offering to qualified investors. XM intends to use the proceeds of the offering to repurchase its 11.25% Senior Secured Notes due 2013. I know that I told you about Mel Karamzin’s salesmanship and content brilliance, but he also understands financial engineering — as noted with the above maneuver — and he just really hates to lose.
I am increasing my price target on SIRI to $2.00, and I expect to see 43% more upside to shares.