John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Sirius XM: Cash for Clunker

siriThis week has been a good one for Sirius XM Radio.

The company’s shares spiked, rising about 20 percent to 54 cents on news of the government’s expanded “Cash for Clunkers” program and the positive impact it should have on new car sales and, by extension, new Sirius subscriptions. That analysts had been predicting a second-quarter loss for the satellite radio company, along with the loss of thousands of subscribers, did little to temper enthusiasm. Though it seems to have done so today, now that those predictions have proven true.

Reporting second-quarter earnings this morning, Sirius posted a net loss of $157.3 million, or four cents a share on revenue that rose one percent to $590.8 million. Excluding one-time charges, though, Sirius lost only a penny a share, matching analyst estimates.

As analysts had foreseen, subscriber count slipped again. Sirius ended the quarter with 18.4 million subscribers–a one percent drop from a year ago. All told, the company lost 185,999 net subscribers during the period. And that’s prior to the addition of a $2 royalty fee.

Looking ahead, the satellite radio operator raised its outlook for the year, cautiously optimistic that the car sales that drive subscriptions will pick up in the second half of this year.

“Based on these results we are increasing guidance again and expect to exceed over $400 million in adjusted income from operations during 2009,” CEO Mel Karmazin said in an earnings release. “Growing our revenue in the face of broad declines in the advertising and automotive markets is a remarkable accomplishment, and we are well positioned for a rebound in auto sales.”

Shares in Sirius are trading down 7.41 percent at 50 cents as I write this, which is still 10 times their 52 week low. And, to be fair, they are up almost 10 cents in last 10 trading days and up about 320 percent year-to-date.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik