Sirius Is No Joking Matter

Well played, Sirius (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) . The fast-growing satellite radio provider disappointed only the bears with this morning's second-quarter report. With revenue and subscriber counts growing at 51% and 53% respectively, the company's loss was nearly halved to $0.09 per share.

Sirius gained 561,493 net new subscribers during the three months, beating the 338,000 that rival XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR  ) landed during the same period. It is the seventh straight quarter that Sirius has attracted more net new subs. Yes, a lot of that is the result of XM's older, established base of satellite-radio users that are up for renewal. However, Sirius is still landing slightly more gross subscriber additions than the rival it is bent on merging with.

The end result is that XM and Sirius combined to close out the quarter with 900,000 more subscribers than at the start. That is impressive, even if most of the subscribers are coming from new-car buyers with factory-installed satellite radio receivers. They are unlikely to be as passionately loyal as those who make a series of choices before arriving at a Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) or Circuit City (NYSE: CC  ) to buy a receiver at the retail level.

It's not all peaches and streams. The average monthly subscription revenue per user is lower than it was a year ago. The same goes for advertising revenue. However, Sirius is keeping its expense growth in check. If XM and Sirius are allowed to merge, the savings will be substantial. On a day when Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) announces that it has sold more than 3 billion songs through its iTunes store, it's hard to fathom the anti-merger argument that an XM-Sirius union would corner the market on premium aural content.

No, Sirius is no joking matter anymore.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any company mentioned in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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