Most people know exactly where they were on New Year's Eve this past holiday season, and for Sirius XM Radio (SIRI -2.01%) shareholders it's also a bit of a bittersweet mile marker. That was the last day that Sirius XM stock closed above the $4 mark.
It hasn't been easy. Sirius XM wound up closing out the year with record subscriber, revenue, and free cash flow tallies, but the satellite radio monopoly's buoyant fundamentals haven't translated into sustainable stock gains.
The first trading day of 2016 is also the last time that Sirius XM stock even hit $4 on an intraday basis. The market has soured on the media giant since peaking at $4.20 in November, and that was the highest level that the stock had seen since early 2007. Then again, in 2007 Sirius was still trying to hook up with XM Satellite Radio, and Liberty Media (FWONA) had yet to acquire a sizable preferred share stake in the eventually merged company. In other words, last November's peak wasn't an all-time high but it represented an all-time high in terms of market cap and enterprise value.
Sirius XM itself has never been stronger. It tacked on 2.3 million net subscriber additions through 2015, the largest gain for Sirius and XM in more than eight years when they were separate entities. Sirius XM now watches over 29.6 million subscribers, a pretty incredible achievement when you consider that nobody was paying for radio until Sirius and XM took to the satellite airwaves.
Wall Street is cautiously optimistic about Sirius XM's chances. Barrington analyst James Goss updated his firm's take on the company late last week. He's still bullish. He's sticking with his "outperform" rating and $4.60 price target, but trimming his profit outlook slightly as programming costs weigh on its business. Goss now sees a profit of $0.13 a share this year and $0.19 a share come 2017, a $0.01 a share reduction in each of the two years.
The revisions on the bottom line aren't deal breakers. Barrington is sticking to its model's other forecasts outside of seasonal tweaks. Sirius XM has become a surprisingly sleep stock lately. One can argue that Liberty Media merely building its position to a controlling 61% stake in Sirius XM, and then simply sitting on it instead of snapping up all of Sirius XM or spinning it off took some of volatility out of the stock. Sirius XM as a consistently profitable and steady media giant also has had a funny way of shooing away the speculators. With Liberty Media holding its hand and Sirius XM coming through with slow yet consistent growth it wouldn't be a surprise to see Sirius XM creep its way back up to $4 and beyond. It'll happen, but then it will be up to Sirius XM's fundamentals to keep them above that mark.