Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) is rocking these days.
The satellite radio provider hit a four-year high on Friday, and now investors are hoping that tomorrow's quarterly report will keep the good times rolling.
There will be opportunities. There will be challenges. More important, there will be answers. Let's go over some of the meaty questions that Sirius XM may be able to address tomorrow morning.
1. How are the important metrics holding up?
Sirius XM already treated investors to some good news last month. The media giant revealed that it closed out the year with 2 million net additions in 2012. Sirius XM had less than 1.5 million net additions through the first nine months of the year, so it closed out the holiday quarter with more than 500,000 net new subscribers to hit 23.9 million.
Sirius XM even initiated its 2013 guidance at the time, so it's unlikely that it will refresh those goals just four weeks later.
Revenue, earnings, EBITDA, and free cash flow will be new metrics announced tomorrow morning. However, trend watchers will also want to see how some of the other performance metrics are holding up.
How is Sirius XM's conversion rate faring? Less than half of buyers of new cars with satellite radio receivers continue to pay for it after their free trials run out. Sirius XM updates that metric quarterly. Is churn -- the average number of listeners that Sirius XM loses in a month -- holding steady just below 2%? Is average revenue per user -- a gauge that has been inching higher given Sirius XM's rate increase early last year, but also climbing as subscribers upgrade their plans to include more content and streaming access -- still on the rise? Is Sirius XM generating more ad revenue on its non-commercial-free channels? Are programming and content costs still in control?
Investors will have a clearer snapshot on all of these things tomorrow.
2. Is Interim CEO James Meyer a permanent CEO?
Mel Karmazin took investors by surprise when he revealed late last year that he would not stick around after his now expired contract runs out.
The company wasted no time in promoting James Meyer -- Sirius XM's president of sales and operations since 2004 -- to replace Karmazin.
He was also recently added to the company's board of directors, and that's a sign that Liberty Media (NASDAQ:FWONA) -- now calling the shots with a majority stake interest in the company -- likes him.
Investors are fine with the move. You have to go back 59 months to find the last time that the shares have traded this high. Will that mean that Meyer can strip the "interim" off his title?
The announcement could come tomorrow, though Liberty Media could also wait until Meyer has at least one full quarter at the helm before committing.
3. Why did it take MySXM so long to launch?
All throughout 2012, Sirius XM pointed to the rollout of a personalized radio feature for streaming subscribers during the latter half of the year.
It failed to happen, though MySXM finally leaked in beta form two weeks ago.
The initial reviews are positive, but it remains to be seen if this is a real challenge to Pandora (NYSE:P).
In terms of ad-supported free streaming, MySXM has no desire to compete for the freeloaders that make up the vast majority of Pandora's subscriber base. However, MySXM -- especially since all of Sirius XM's streaming offerings cost just $3.50 a month for active receiver-based subscribers -- may have a shot at wooing some of the Spotify and premium Pandora One customers.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also highly expected to enter this market soon. Reports have been surfacing for weeks that the tech giant is in licensing talks with its major label partners. This is going to be a huge though highly competitive market. Sirius XM is likely to provide some color on this product and market tomorrow.
4. What will Liberty Media do?
There are plenty of options available to Liberty Media now that it has regulatory approval for its recently acquired majority stake in Sirius XM.
Liberty Media can gobble up all of Sirius XM, though it just doesn't have that kind of money. The more popular bet is that Liberty Media will spin off its Sirius XM position in a tax-advantaged maneuver.
However, Liberty Media can also decide to do nothing at all. It now owns a popular platform that has competitive advantages that don't exist in satellite television, where it has stuck in the past.
There probably won't be a lot of color on this one. When Liberty Media is ready to talk, it will talk.
It just never hurts to ask.