Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) wowed investors on Tuesday after its Q1 earnings call. After a pre market drop to $3 nearly flirting with disaster, shares rallied and were bought up strong throughout the day, bouncing down from $3.25 once, and then rising up to reach $3.25 again. Closing price? $3.25. High closing price for the year? $3.25.
This price should be rather familiar to investors of Sirius XM this year. The stock has hit this price on more than one occasion since January 1st.
As you can see by the chart, $3.25 is no stranger. Investors who follow my writings will remember when I wrote this article back on March 7th, right after Sirius XM hit $3.25 for the second time.
And by now you're sick of hearing that price. So let's move beyond it, shall we? Why are things different this time?
For one, this move is due to news, and a great deal of it. While I don't wish to dig into the minute details of the Q1 call, I will say I was pleased with what I heard based on what I was looking for personally.
Metrics came in what I consider to be reasonable fashion. While some may have concern with little hits and misses here or there, I believe that everything came within about 1% of where it should be. Nothing spectacular, but then again I wasn't looking for anything out of the ordinary here. When you consider what I was looking for in the Q1 call, I was happy with the answers to all three. Let's take a look.
First, Jim Meyer was named as Sirius XM's new permanent CEO. Question mark removed, speculation gone, uncertainty no more. Certainty is good for share price, and question marks are bad. This was good news piece number one.
Second, additional net subscribers came in at 453 thousand. Given that guidance is for 1.4 million, that leaves 3 quarters to reach another 947 thousand subscribers. While a change in the GM agreement should impact 4th quarter results in this area to the downside (due to the way the GM subs will be handled), I expect Sirius XM will meet or exceed its guidance come year's end. Good news piece number two.
Third, investors received news that 209 million shares had been repurchased under Sirius XM's $2 billion buyback plan. If you have been following along I have been very vocal that there has been a large buyer of Sirius XM shares in the past few months, and that I expected Sirius XM had bought back a considerable number of shares at recent low pricing.
209 million shares may sound small compared to Sirius XM's previous 6.5 billion shares outstanding, but it's a great start. And if you consider that Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) owned 50% of those shares, and that institutional investors owned 31%, unless you take a wild guess that Liberty sold shares back, or institutional holders were doing the selling, those shares came from the 19% retail float.
That makes it more significant. Because it's nearly a 17% reduction of those retail shares. What does that mean? Less shares flying around, and fewer shares for individuals to trade with, and arguably the remainder of the $2 billion left in the stated buyback could reduce that float by another 34%.
While a buyback doesn't immediately add value, it should be considered that the value lies in the future expected appreciation of the shares bought back. As I explained in this article, for instance, if one expects a modest appreciation of 15% for Sirius XM annually for the next 5 years, a $5 billion buyback could return a value of $8.75 billion. If you expect greater appreciation for Sirius XM, that number would be larger.
With the buyback underway, it will be important to note the quantities and average prices Sirius XM repurchases these shares at. The more shares it buys back at lower pricing, the better it will be for investors.
Times are now different. We have a few answers that were needed, and Sirius XM has now been shrunk by roughly 3.33%. $3.25 now, is not the same as it previously was at higher share counts, and Sirius XM could see additional appreciation from here of that 3.33% in short order.
It remains to be seen "just how high she will go" but I believe investors are on strong footing going forward, and should look, finally, to prices beyond $3.25 in the coming sessions.
Additional disclosure: I am long SIRI January 2014 $2 and $2.50 calls.