It's the season of giving, but Sirius XM Radio
At a critical shareholder meeting in two days, investors will be asked to approve measures that include increasing the number of authorized shares (from 4.5 billion presently to a whopping 8 billion) and OK'ing an eventual reverse stock split.
Bumping up the authorized share count would give the company financing flexibility to repay roughly $1 billion in debt that is due next year. The reverse split approval would come into play if the stock is still trading below a buck in four months (and would be delisted without the reverse).
Neither measure is ideal, of course. Even if Sirius gets the green light for more shares, it remains to be seen who would buy them. Fearing dilution, the already pummeled stock may head even lower, unless the market has already baked that into today's pedestrian prices.
The best-case scenario would be if Sirius could place the freshly minted shares quickly with strategic partners. Unfortunately, automakers are panhandling themselves, and even some of satellite radio's well-heeled content partners, like the NFL, have been laying off employees. It may feel heretical, but the company's best shot at finding a big buyer willing to pour in hundreds of millions to see it through its hurdles may be terrestrial radio giants like CBS
The reverse split is also a controversial move. It's a zero-sum game on paper. A 1-for-50 reverse split, for instance, at this morning's price of $0.14 a share would result in every 50 shares being replaced by a single share at $7.
It's typically a sign of desperation, even though some companies, like priceline.com
It's too much, too soon for Sirius XM. Shareowners are stuck between a rock station and a hard place. The company is in an even tighter spot. If investors restrict the company's flexibility, its choices will be few as it tackles next year's debt monsters. Let's just hope that Thursday's shareholder meeting is not the company's last.
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