Covering satellite radio giant Sirius XM Radio
Now that we have comment boxes below our stories, you're getting a sample of what my email inbox typically looks like. I love it. I don't mind taking my lumps, when they're well earned. I relish the feedback. I got plenty of comments when I wrote Monday about "5 Reasons Why Sirius XM Is at $0.43." (Check out the link to see the full slate of responses.)
I figured I would address some of the more common queries and venom in today's column.
The XM recommendation
DemianBohemian writes: "Why were you guys pumping XM as a stand alone company up in the double digits all those years to your paid subscribers then?"
This often comes up, so let's dive right in. I recommended XM Satellite Radio to Motley Fool Rule Breakers subscribers three years ago at $30.94. Obviously I felt strongly about the industry's promise and XM's prospects. Obviously I was wrong.
With losses mounting despite the subscriber gains, the newsletter recommended that subscribers sell the stock 13 months later at $14.85. It was a brutal loss, but the bearish turn served readers well. With XM shares being exchanged for 4.6 shares of Sirius this summer, it now values XM at $2.21 a share, given last night's close of $0.48 a share for the merged company. In other words, the stock has taken an 85% plunge since the sell recommendation. We spared our subscribers, and it's why premium newsletters are as important for the timing of their sells as they are for their buy recommendations. It was a horrendous pick, but cutting our losses saved it from being a disastrous one.
Subsidizing the hardware
Mailinator writes: "Why doesn't Sirius give away receivers and installation like the TV Satellite companies do with the DVRs in exchange for a 2 year contract?"
It's a great model for industries like satellite television and wireless phones, but their subscribers are also paying $50-$80 a month. The math isn't as kind when you have pricy receivers, and users paying $13 a month (or less). It is why TiVo
Overseas satellite radio provider WorldSpace
Splits in reverse
TheeShawn writes: "Just having a higher stock price doesn't engender confidence. Look at JAVA (SunMicro), that worked wonders didn't it?"
I stand by my column last month, suggesting that a reverse stock split is in the company's best interest. SunMicrosystems
If you're a quality company, you will survive -- and thrive -- after a reverse split. It clearly worked for priceline.com
When you are a consumer-facing company, you can't afford to have a share price that amounts to pocket change. Most subscribers don't know that a dollar-menu burger can be swapped for two shares of Sirius these days. Even fewer listeners know about the three huge debt payments due next year. However, a share price does influence how a company is portrayed by the mainstream media. It's a zero-sum game on paper, but perceptions matter.
Comment boxes never sleep
I'm not naive. The comment box below will fill up with venomous shots, and hopefully a little constructive banter. I welcome it all.
I'm a believer in satellite radio. I have been a Sirius subscriber since 2004 and an XM subscriber since 2006. This doesn't mean that I am going to see the stock through rose-colored beer goggles. The challenges are all too real, and anyone upset that financial articles on the industry typically have a negative bias must concede that the analysis has been correct, given the rock-bottom share price.
So let's try something different. What will it take to make Sirius XM Radio a winning investment? The question isn't rhetorical. Kick in with your thoughts on what can turn things around for Sirius. I'll be back in a few days to go over some of the best responses.
More news than static on Sirius XM:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz subscribes to both XM and Sirius. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, save for TiVo. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.