Satellite radio will be in financial orbit next week when Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) reports its latest quarterly results.
There's a lot riding on Tuesday morning's second-quarter report. The stock is within pocket change of hitting its March highs, and a strong report could send the shares to their highest close in more than eight years.
Analysts see revenue climbing 8% since the prior year's period to $1.12 billion. This would make it five quarters in a row that the satellite radio provider has topped $1 billion in quarterly revenue, according to S&P Capital IQ data. Wall Street pros also see earnings climbing to $0.03 a share, up from $0.02 a share a year earlier.
We seem to be splitting pennies given the large number of shares outstanding at Sirius XM. It has cranked out a profit per share of $0.02 or $0.03 in each of those five $1 billion-topping quarters. However, there is definite improvement here given the scalable model.
Sirius XM has become a market darling because it has cornered the premium radio market. Fears of the connected car and Internet apps eating into its audience have failed to materialize.
Yes, top-line growth has decelerated here. We're now down to year-over-year upticks in the high single digits. The beauty of Sirius XM's model, though, rests in its ability to spread its fixed overhead across a growing subscriber base that hasn't flinched at a pair of rate increases since 2012. This ultimately means that modest top-line growth has translated into healthy double-digit growth in free cash flow and profitability.
Beyond the numbers
It won't just be financials on display when Sirius XM offers its quarterly snapshot on Tuesday. This will be the first earnings call since last month's settlement, where Sirius XM agreed to pay $210 million to resolve royalty claims on songs recorded before 1972.
Sirius XM may also shed some light on its efforts to grow its business beyond premium radio, something that has been in the works since a meaty acquisition tossed its hat into the telematics ring.
A strong report or any encouraging words during the call could push the stock higher, possibly fueled by a short squeeze. There were 141.9 million shares of Sirius XM sold short as of the end of June. That may be half as many bearish wagers placed on Sirius XM than a year earlier, but it's still a lot of people that will be forced to scramble if the already bright picture at Sirius XM gets even brighter.
Naturally, the stock can also head the other way if subscriber growth is weak or it fails to live up to Wall Street's growth targets. History is on Sirius XM's side: It has been one of the market's biggest winners since bottoming out six years ago. Now, it just needs another strong quarter to see if it can turn its volume even louder.