There were no bombshells during this morning's annual shareholder meeting at Sirius XM Radio
For starters, the satellite radio giant broke down the metrics behind the new subscriber plans it rolled out late last year. It's stuck with the $12.99 monthly pricing for regular accounts for another two years to appease regulators, so its pricing flexibility here comes in offering different packages at ideally higher price points.
The "Best of" package is a winner. 748,000 Sirius and XM subscribers are paying an extra $4 a month to access choice exclusive content from the rival service. That's a healthy contrast to the 101,000 subscribers who have downgraded to cheaper plans with limited programming.
Sirius XM also plans to use social media sites to drive retention, interaction, and cost-effective subscriber growth -- but then, so does everybody these days. It's great to see individual Sirius XM channels reaching out to fans through Twitter, Facebook, and News Corp.'s
CEO Mel Karmazin is now emphasizing Sirius XM as a cash flow growth story -- and rightly so. Subscribers and revenue growth have grown by just 3% and 5% respectively over the past year, while cash operating expenses have been slashed by 23%.
The slowdown in subscriber growth is actually helping the company's cash flows at this point. A slide presented during the meeting showed that it takes the company 12 months to make back its subscriber acquisition costs if 70% of new car buyers with factory-installed satellite receivers become paying subscribers at the end of their trial periods. It takes 29 months of subscriber fees to cover the acquisition costs if only 30% of the car owners convert into paying customers. Since the actual results have historically split the difference, it takes less than two years to cover the initial outlay. That's a fair trade in most subscriber businesses, though it also explains why Sirius XM's cash flows can improve as its subscriber base temporarily contracts.
Can Sirius XM do better? Sure. The company points out how it has a healthier churn rate than Netflix
Improving penetration in the automobile market, rolling out an upcoming Apple
Sirius XM has a few months of synergies to play with. It also achieved debt relief after pushing out most of its near-term maturities. The path to the next annual shareholder meeting won't be as bumpy this time around.
Still, it'd be great to see Sirius XM as both a cash flow and a growth story. That'd be the very best kind of bombshell.
More news than static on Sirius XM:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz subscribes to both XM and Sirius. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy wonders whether Bob Dylan's still deejaying.