This Week in Sirius XM Radio

Things never get dull for the country's lone satellite-radio provider. Shares of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI  ) moved lower this past week, sliding 3.4% to close at $3.66. The media darling's slide was far worse than the Nasdaq's 0.1% dip on the week.

There was more going on beyond the share-price gyrations, though. Sirius XM struck a deal expanding its reach with Chrysler buyers. It announced a birthday bash for its most popular on-air celebrity. Majority stakeholder Liberty Media (NASDAQ: LMCA  ) posted quarterly results. And Pandora (NYSE: P  ) announced that it attracted fewer listeners in October than it did in September.

Let's take a closer look.

Keep on motoring
Sirius XM kicked off the trading week by closing on its $530 million purchase of Agero's connected vehicle business, a move that will help the satellite-radio star diversify its operations. 

Sirius XM then went on to expand its relationship with Chrysler, announcing that anyone buying a new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, SRT, Fiat, or Mopar 2014 model year vehicle with a satellite radio-equipped Uconnect System will get a free year of access to both its satellite-radio service and its Web-based Internet service.

That's a smart move, as drivers buying connected cars will be tempted to stream Pandora, iTunes Radio, and the growing number of free or nearly free alternatives to satellite radio. Offering buyers a year of Sirius XM -- and perhaps more importantly its premium Internet service -- will help keep them close. 

Sirius XM also announced that it will broadcast a star-studded bash in celebration of Howard Stern's birthday in January. The iconic morning-show legend turns 60 in January. Stern's annual birthday fetes were part of his terrestrial radio arsenal, and this is the first time it will take place on satellite radio.

Liberty for all
Sirius XM has become a growing part of Liberty Media's fortune, and not just because it has appreciated substantially since acquiring its 40% preferred share stake four years ago that was increased to a majority stake since early last year. Liberty Media itself has spun off a major asset and last month acquired a 5.2% chunk of its shares from the country's largest cable television provider.

It's no surprise that Liberty Media would open its quarterly report with Sirius XM's performance. It's a key driver to Liberty Media's own appreciation in recent years. 

Liberty Media's stock slipped on Tuesday after posting a smaller profit than Wall Street was expecting. It had easily beaten Wall Street's profit targets in previous quarters. There was nothing new revealed on its intentions with Sirius XM Radio.

Pandora lives to stream another month
The launch of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iTunes Radio in mid-September introduced the fiercest challenge that Pandora has had in its ascendant history. As part of the the iOS 7 rollout, iTunes Radio is easy to access for iPhone, iPad, and iPhone touch owners. Apple revealed that more than 20 million people have checked out the service in its first four to five weeks. 

How is Pandora holding up? Well, it offered up its monthly update on Tuesday. Listener hours in October clocked in at a record 1.47 billion, up 18% over the prior year's month, but also an encouraging 8% uptick since September. Even with October's extra day. 

However, the number of active listeners in October -- 70.9 million -- were less than the 72.7 million unique listeners that Pandora has attracted in September. It will be a trend worth watching, especially since there wasn't a sequential dip between the two months in previous years. It's hard to argue that Apple's iTunes Radio didn't hurt Pandora's user base, but investors may want to wait until next next month's update before starting to panic.

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  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2013, at 3:45 PM, wired4me wrote:

    So what if Liberty buys Blackberry and adds to their to there Sirius XM fortune? Already in U.S./ Canada.

    Why not include global?

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