Peace breaks out at Sirius-XM AGM

Chris Forrester

Many expected sparks to fly at Sirius XM Radio’s AGM, held in New York on Wednesday, but while there were some revelations, there were no strong objections from the meeting floor.

The past few months have seen Sirius-XM suffer something of a roller-coaster ride, from being almost at the front door of the bankruptcy court and a share price that was in the gutter (6 cents) to this week’s glory days (relatively speaking) of 34 cents. Still a way to go to get back to this past year’s best level of $2.70, but anything’s better than 6 cents!

“Stability” was the word used by most commentators, and despite the recent doom and gloom there was much good news to report, not least that a new offering in the shape of its “Best Of” bundle which is teasing an extra $4 a month out of 748,000 subscribers who want to listen to extra broadcast options. Set against this growth in hard ARPU, the combined radio systems saw 101,000 subs who traded down to lower-priced tiers. But a ratio of better than 7-to-1 in favour of more money is extremely positive news.

CEO Mel Karmazin, so used to having to defend bad news, evidently glowed as he reported subs growth of 3% and revenue growth of 5% y-o-y. That’s good news in these tough times. On the Opex side, the merged businesses have slashed costs by an impressive 23%.

Karmazin recognised that more has to be done on customer churn, which is better than Netflix but worse than either DirecTV or Echostar Dish. But there’s other good news on the horizon, not least its deal with Apple to stream content via the iTunes Music Store. Sirius XM also indicated that its iPhone/iPod Touch Apple will be joined by applications for other smartphones that will stream Sirius programming to the devices.

The meeting approved the election of 12 directors, approved the share increase from 8bn to 9bn, but rejected a proposal to give stockholders an advisory vote on senior executives pay. The final slice of good news was guidance that the broadcaster’s EBITDA would top $350m, up from $300m.

Sirius XM also outlined the pattern of its debt maturities, with $339m set for this year, $180m in 2010, $632m in 2011, $485m in 2012, $1.27bn in 2013, and $555m in 2014. Then it’s plain sailing!

One other news tidbit, Sirius FM-5, its latest addition to its broadcast fleet, was delivered to Kazakhstan on May 26, ready for launch in a few weeks.