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 nicely higher on the week, soaring 4.8% to close at $3.27. The move more than doubled the Nasdaq's 2.3% gain. 

There was more going on beyond the share-price gyrations, though. Liberty Media (NASDAQ: LMCA  ) suggested that it hasn't given up on acquiring all of Sirius XM. On the streaming front, Spotify revealed that it now has more than 10 million paying subscribers. 

Let's take a closer look.

Liberty tree
It's been two months since Liberty Media abandoned plans to absorb Sirius XM into its bloodstream. Sirius XM investors were unlikely to hand over the 47% of the company that it didn't own for a modest premium, but Sirius XM's stock has fallen considerably since then.

Liberty Media has moved on. It has since struck other deals, and earlier this week it said it plans to increase its stake in Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV  ) by snapping up another 3.7 million shares. It already had a 26% stake in the concert promoter. 

Discussing the Live Nation transaction on CNBC, Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei didn't necessarily close the door on acquiring all of Sirius XM. He conceded that it still makes sense, but he also said he wouldn't pursue it at this time. The whiff of a possibly renewed deal -- ideally at a healthier premium -- helped prop Sirius XM's stock higher, but just because something makes sense doesn't mean it will make cents. 

Under the Spotify spotlight
Spotify announced that it now has more than 10 million paying subscribers. That's a pretty big deal. Pandora (NYSE: P  ) has reached 76 million active listeners, but just 3.3 million of them are premium subscribers. 

Spotify is different, and it also charges more for its premium platform. In theory, this could be good news for Sirius XM. It shows that the market of people willing to pay for music is expanding faster than just Pandora and Sirius XM. However, Spotify's growth -- and the inevitable mainstream adoption of the connected car -- could also make this a challenge in the future. Someone subscribing to Spotify with access in the car may not be as inclined to pay for more for satellite radio. The same also goes the other way around.

This is a major milestone of validation for premium streaming. Time will tell if it's more than just that.

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  • Report this Comment On May 24, 2014, at 12:32 PM, zukerman wrote:

    The main question is, why does it seem that Liberty acts preoccupied with the cable side while Sirius drifts lower. Malone is known for his unorthodox methods to achieve what he wants. They are aware that the failed attempt to swallow the part of Sirius they don't own is part of why the price is where it is. They seem to feed into uncertainty involving their next move by repeatedly stating they might just try again. What's to say they wont just let the price stay low long enough for institutional to pile in that are willing to go for what is now a premium @3.68?

  • Report this Comment On May 27, 2014, at 11:48 AM, dannysboy wrote:

    Given so many absurd statements are made, and taken seriously, about SiriusXM, I'll throw in a possible.

    Not knowing how far the company is going to go with the share buyback program, Liberty benefits just like other shareholders as the number of shares declines.

    Also, there is an argument for not owning all of the shares. There was a time when this company was largely owned by individual shareholders, who were also subscribers.

    It makes sense to leave enough shares out there so subscribers can also be owners of the company---particularly when the shares can be bought at such a low price at this time.

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