Once again we're seeing analysts line up on the bullish side of Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) ahead of what should be another strong quarterly report.
Morgan Stanley upgraded shares of the satellite radio giant to "overweight" this morning, setting a $2 price target. Does anyone remember when at least one analyst checked in with a $0.25 target?
It's comical now, but Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Wienkes was initially spot-on with his pessimistic call in October 2008. A few months later, shares of Sirius XM would bottom out at a mere nickel. However, that same disastrous moment also proved to be one of the market's best buying opportunities of 2009. Sirius XM was able to hold off bankruptcy, turn the profitability corner, and re-emerge as a growth stock.
You don't see too many analysts targeting pocket change pricing for the satellite radio star these days. Sure, there's always the occasional bearish financial writer laying down a quarter on the pinball machine, but it's a game no one else is playing.
Sirius XM will report fourth-quarter financials in two weeks, and investors are already banking on another profitable quarter of sequential subscriber growth. There haven't been any indications to think otherwise. General Motors' (NYSE: GM ) successful IPO is proof that automakers are revving up again, and factory-installed receivers are the primary source of subscriber growth for Sirius XM.
Morgan Stanley's bullish upgrade this morning leans on expectations for accelerating free cash flow. Again, that shouldn't be a problem. Sirius XM has been keeping content costs in check in this scalable model where every incremental subscriber is more valuable than the one before it.
There's also hope for growth on the streaming front. This hasn't been a big draw in the past, but Howard Stern's new five-year deal kicked in last month with the inclusion of streaming through Android, iPhone, and Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry devices. It may still be a hard sell for stand-alone streaming accounts, but it's just a $3 add-on for subscribers on receiver-based plans.
Sirius XM isn't the cheapest stock in town. Morgan Stanley's $2 target implies a market cap of nearly $13 billion and a debt-adjusted enterprise value closing in on $16 billion. These levels create lofty valuation multiples relative to satellite television behemoths DirecTV (NYSE: DTV ) and DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH ) . Then again, the satellite radio industry is growing at a time when the cable and satellite television providers in general are living in fear of the growing ranks of so-called cord cutters.
Satellite radio is growing with every passing quarter. A week from next Tuesday it'll grow a little more.
What are your expectations for Sirius XM's fourth quarter? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.