At last! Good news for Sirius

The past few months have been tough at pay-radio outfit Sirius-XM, with talk of bankruptcy, debt-burdens, and most especially the near-collapse of the US auto market with all that means for new subscribers to pay-radio. Sirius-XMs pro-forma results showed some useful improvements.

First, the company added 82,945 net new subs during the pre-Christmas quarter, and ended 2008 with subs up 10% y-o-y at 19m (17.3m at end of 2007). Revenues were also up 16%, taking quarterly revenue to $622m against market expectations of $615m. The pre-Christmas quarter was the first when both the Sirius and XM portions were trading together. As to 2008s numbers the business had pro-forma revenues of $2.44bn.

Not that all worries were eliminated. For example, in the same quarter year 2007 the two then rival broadcasters added 1.1m new subs, so this past quarters 82,945 is a concern. Churn was up slightly, from 1.7% in 2007 to 1.8% in 2008. Digging a little deeper into the subs numbers it is clear that the company lost about 131,000 subs who had bought and installed sat-radio receivers in their existing cars. But the company gained about 218,000 subscribers whose radios came installed in their new cars. The company has often said that it is in so many more new cars compared with the past that even with slowing car sales, its subscriber numbers will continue to improve.

In February Sirius-XM was 40% acquired by Liberty Media, which helped bail out Sirius-XM with a $500m infusion to help pay off debt obligations.