Things never get dull for the country's lone satellite-radio provider. Shares of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI ) moved higher this past week, rising 1.1% to close at $3.79. The media darling's gain contrasted with the Nasdaq's 0.5% drop on the week.
There was more going on beyond the share-price gyrations, though it was a pretty quiet week for Sirius XM. The same can't be said about its rivals and partners. Pandora (NYSE: P ) threw Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) a pair of bones this week, introducing an Android tablet app and availability for Chromecast owners. Meanwhile, longtime automotive partner Ford (NYSE: F ) announced strong vehicle sales for October.
Let's take a closer look.
Cracking open Pandora's box
The trading week began with Pandora hosting a conference call to explain a shift in its financial year. Pandora will go from ending its fiscal years at the end of January to the calendar year ending in December. Pandora argues that it's trying to make its fiscal year more in line with the advertising industry. It won't mean much for investors, outside of knowing that its new quarter will consist of a two-month stub covering November and December.
The more actionable news from Pandora is its push to back the industry standard in mobile operating system -- Google's Android -- by offering up a tablet-specific app. There was nothing inherently wrong with the smartphone app, but Pandora may as well make the most of the additional space available on tablets.
The Chromecast move is even more important. Google's $35 Chromecast has been a hit as a cheap set-top device that allows smartphone, tablet, and PC users the ability to send content to their TVs. The most popular applications will naturally be for online video, but the options to stream music from the Web were initially limited to Google's own YouTube or Google Play Music. Now the country's most popular streaming application is available. This may not be too big of a deal for Sirius XM, since it's most commonly heard in cars, but it does give Pandora an edge on the streaming end, where Sirius XM is hoping to grow its reach with its satellite radio on-demand and personalized radio platforms.
The automotive industry has been putting the pedal to the metal in recent years, and Ford has helped lead the way. Ford announced a 14% surge in sales for October. That was actually lower than some analysts were expecting, but it's still Ford's best October showing since 2004.
It wasn't just Ford that cleaned up nicely. All three of Detroit's "Big Three" posted double-digit year-over-year gains for the month.
This is naturally great news for Sirius XM. More cars being sold translates into more new drivers with free trials of the factory-installed receivers. Nearly half of those will convert into paying customers. We're getting to the point where a lot of these new-car buyers are existing subscribers in their old cars, but it's still an important outlet for growth.
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