This Week in Sirius XM Radio

Sirius XM Radio had a busy week.

Rick Munarriz
Rick Munarriz
Jan 11, 2014 at 5:00PM
Consumer Goods

Things never get dull for the country's lone satellite-radio provider. Shares of Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) moved higher on the heels of Liberty Media's (NASDAQ:FWONA) proposed takeover, climbing 3.6% to close at $3.70. The media darling's gain beat Nasdaq's more modest 1% gain.

There was more going on beyond the share-price gyrations, though. Sirius XM also offered up an encouraging business update, while Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) became the latest car to ink a deal for in-car connectivity. Meanwhile, on the streaming front, Pandora (NYSE:P) posted encouraging metrics for December.

Let's take a closer look.

In with the new
Sirius XM revealed that it closed out the year with 25.56 million subscribers. That's less than the 25.82 million members it had on board three months earlier, but it was still 60,000 more than what was implied by its earlier guidance. Self-pay subscribers, on the other hand, grew nicely.

In short, it was better-than-expected news, and that will come in handy if it's able to squeeze a better offer than the meager premium that Liberty Media is proposing to take it out at. 

Sirius XM also initiated its subscriber and free cash flow targets for 2014. It's looking at 1.25 million net subscriber additions and $1.1 billion in free cash flow this year.

One more connected car
It was CES this past week, and lately it's felt more like the Car Engagement Show than the International Consumer Electronics Show. There's a lot of technology making its way into cars, and this week Tesla announced that it's teaming up with AT&T (NYSE:T) to offer in-car wireless connections that will be used for various functions including remote engine diagnostics, telematics, and infotainment.

Where does Sirius XM fit in with this news nugget? Well, Tesla and AT&T specifically spell out access to Internet radio directly from the car's 17-inch touchscreen.

The good news for Sirius XM shareholders is that it's been able to grow despite the growing popularity of connected cars. Sirius XM even pointed out last year that conversion and retention rates for owners of Web-savvy cars is just as good as, if not better than, for drivers of other vehicles.

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Pandora rock
It was a redemptive month for Pandora in December, as the leading streaming service set new records for unique listeners and hours served.

Claiming 76.2 million unique listeners is an important mark, since it had previously peaked at 72.7 million in September, coinciding with the arrival of iTunes Radio. When the count dipped in October and failed to set a new high in November, it was easy to wonder if Pandora was yielding share to iTunes Radio. If that's the case, then the market itself for streaming audio is growing.