I've been having a blast with this new time machine I got, darting in and out of the future to check in on some of the more exciting stocks that I cover.
I've already hit up the country's favorite premium video streaming service and the undisputed leader in home-based carbonated drinks. Today, I turn up the volume by taking a look at what Sirius XM Radio
Yes, satellite radio still matters. Connectivity in cars is faster and more reliable, but premium radio still trumps anything in the mold of an ad-based streaming model.
The view from 2015
The news isn't all good from the future. Howard Stern really is hanging up his headphones, though the two networks bearing his name will live on into 2016 under some of the personalities that he helped raise in his farm club system. Obviously, the programming costs will be lower for Sirius XM.
Sirius XM also has just 24 million subscribers in 2015, as growth has decelerated. This may come as a shock since Sirius XM already had 21.9 million subs heading into 2012, but the average account in 2015 is paying a little more than $20 a month for plans that combine satellite radio, streaming Sirius XM stations, and personalized streams. Worrywarts concerned about the 12% price hike early in 2012 missed the possibility that Sirius XM could add value to its service.
The slowing subscriber growth isn't necessarily Sirius XM's fault. The urbanization trend continues, and the youth continue to eschew auto ownership and living in the suburbs, joining the more than 1.1 million Zipcar
The upside to all of this is that sharply higher average revenue per user paired with shrewd cost controls is delivering healthy levels of free cash flow and profitability.
Liberty isn't the belle
CEO Mel Karmazin also never had to resort to a reverse stock split. Shares of Sirius XM are in the mid-single digits on their own.
What else do you want to know about the state of premium radio circa 2015? Oh, Pandora
24 million listeners march
Sirius XM 2.0 was a major buzzword as 2011 came to a close, but it was slow to catch on. The two retail receivers that were introduced in 2011 were mostly ignored by consumers, even the once seemingly promising Lynx.
Most automakers have the new receivers in 2015, and this has opened the door for more interactive satellite radio experiences. It's easier to purchase digital tracks that are playing on the air. Advertisers pay more because listeners can immediately opt in to receive more information. There's even a 24/7 game channel that's popular because listeners compete for prizes in live contests.
Sirius XM is certainly more relevant in 2015 than it is in 2012, and the satellite radio giant has had no problem plucking terrestrial radio franchises and giving them a new home in 2015. I'd mention The Motley Fool channel that rolled out in 2014, but attorneys have asked me not to.
The moral of the story here is that Sirius XM remains popular. Since I've already called it to beat the market over the next three years, it should come as no surprise that I'm promoting the CAPScall initiative for accountability by reiterating my bullish call on Sirius XM for Motley Fool CAPS.
If you like traveling through time but 2015 is too far out there, check out Motley Fool's top stock for 2012. It isn't Sirius XM Radio, but the special report will be free for a limited time so check it out now.
The Motley Fool owns shares of Zipcar. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors and Zipcar. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story except for Liberty Media and Zipcar. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.