Yesterday's bankruptcy of the panhandling clunker known as General Motors
Sirius partners with GM to have XM satellite receivers factory-installed in the automaker's vehicles. Now that GM will be idling many of its auto plants and eventually shuttering several showrooms around the country, Sirius XM will struggle to grow in this area.
Even before GM -- and Chrysler -- began stalling their assembly lines, the satellite-radio operator was stuck in reverse. It attracted 1.3 million new activations last quarter, but that wasn't enough to offset the 1.7 million cancellations. So the GM bankruptcy comes at a lousy time for Sirius XM.
The long-term upside for Sirius XM is that GM will rise out of this ordeal in better fiscal shape than it started. The government has invested too much in GM -- several times the value of all of Sirius XM -- to see its investment fail. Most of the shuttered showrooms and several product lines will be gone forever, but that won't keep potential car buyers off the road. They'll simply buy different cars, and Sirius and XM have spent years shaking hands with the major car manufacturers.
The auto industry also needs Sirius XM to succeed. Cash-strapped automakers collect a steady flow of revenue from the subscriptions that the factory-installed receivers generate. Sirius XM is even working with certified used-car sellers, in hopes of cashing in on dormant receivers.
Carmakers have been accommodating when it comes to future trends. Many new models come with jacks that allow portable media players from Apple
The near term may get bumpy. There's always a chance that clearance sales at shuttered showrooms may spur car-buying activity, and that would suit Sirius XM just fine. However, Sirius XM didn't get past February's financing hurdles just to be a play on near-term trends. The long-term health of the auto industry and an economic recovery to stimulate new-car sales are the tickets to success at Sirius XM. For now, the company can afford to shift into park, as long as its cash flow is enough to cover its chunky interest expense payments.
Sirius XM needs GM, Ford
Other ways to slice and dice satellite-radio fandom:
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He owns no shares in any of the companies in this story and is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.
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