SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ: SIRI) is always a gamble around earnings because of its massive share count and low price making each penny in earnings per share seem more difficult. The biggest question ahead is just how many subscribers it can add year after year and how it will hold up as Pandora Media, Inc. (NYSE: P) signs more “Pandora-ready” pacts with auto makers.
As far as earnings, SIRIUS XM made over $71 million for the quarter, or $0.01 EPS. Sales were up 6.5% at $over $783 million. Estimates from Thomson Reuters were $0.01 EPS and $785.49 million in revenues. Revenues were projected to be about $3.3 billion against estimates of almost $3.4 billion.
In short, it was mostly in-line. SIRIUS XM shares have recovered so much from the lows that it has to beat estimates to keep everyone happy.
The law of large numbers catches up to every company in time. SIRIUS XM added 542,996 subscribers in the quarter and about 1.7 million in whole year of 2011. For 2012, that projection is to add 1.3 million, which some price increases may increase churn modestly.
The notion that Sirius XM was started with new coverage at Underweight by Barclays earlier this week is only one more item showing concern.
The positive case: If we are really going to get an explosive auto market later on in 2012, SIRIUS XM stands to win. Analysts still have a price target consensus of about $2.36 on this stock. Seeking Alpha has a story titled “Buyback And Takeover Chatter For Sirius; CBS Looks Solid” and that might lure more bulls to tout the stock without even reading the article.
The reality is SIRIUS XM is worth over $8 billion today even after the drop, about 4-times Pandora’s $2.2 billion value. Pandora is also only expected to report almost $420 million in sales for the year ended January 2013.
With almost 4 billion shares, it is too bad that a reverse stock split would only attract short sellers. Imagine if SIRIUS XM was able to report earnings of $0.10 ot $0.15 per quarter rather than just a penny each quarter. It would be a psychological boost. The short sellers would attack it and the company knows that. There were already 305 million shares in the short interest as of mid-January and that was the highest short interest reading since last May.
SIRIUS XM is trading down almost 2% at $2.15 against a 52-week range of $1.27 to $2.44. We have already seen 63 million shares trade hands against an average of 55 million shares a day. If SIRIUS XM is going to trade down on valuation, perhaps Pandora needs some caution as well unless it can score a massive swing higher in paying subscribers. Pandora shares are trading down almost 3% at $13.51 versus a post-IPO range of $9.15 to $26.00 and versus a $16.00 IPO price.
As a reminder, investors do have stock options that can be used to hedge this one if they want to stick with it for the long haul.
JON C. OGG