Much has been discussed about Sirius XM's (SIRI) alternative means of acquiring new subscribers. From used car dealers to its new Service Lane program, Sirius XM has been tapping previously neglected channels for new subscribers through 2012 and 2013. The source of the majority of Sirius XM's subscribers, though, still comes from new car sales.
And that's important, given the headlines today. I always look to Spencer Osborne over at Siriusbuzz.com to provide timely reporting on auto sales and how it relates to Sirius XM. August Car Sales Up Big was today's headline. Simple, direct and to the point.
August has been the best month for auto sales not only this year, but in several years. All told there were almost 1.5 million cars sold last month, a number well above that which allows Sirius XM to have good quarterly numbers. The even better news is that the auto sales pace is getting stronger with each passing month. For the first time this year the number 16 million actually seems possible rather than simply aggressive thinking.
If you are interested in the percentages, USA Today released an extensive rundown, which can be found here. The rate for August stands at 16.09 million annualized sales. Numbers, which have not been seen since 2007. Ford (F) up nearly 3.5% and GM (GM) up over 5% were big winners here, both moving considerably and with heavy volume on strong reports.
And of course, Sirius XM was not neglected either, closing the day at $3.70, up 6 cents.
Any concerns that auto sales would slow in 2013, or that "the law of large numbers" as churned customers balance new customers would impact new subscribers at Sirius XM will likely have to be pushed further into the future yet again. Quite simply, it's hard to imagine that Sirius XM will not continue to post strong gross and net new subscriber additions with such large numbers of cars being sold, even as the subscriber base grows and a generally stable churn rate results in larger actual numbers of subscribers going inactive for various reasons.
How will this play out in Sirius XM's Q3 subscriber totals? It's impossible to tell exactly, but obviously the stronger auto sales are, the better. It's reasonable to expect Sirius XM will handily beat guidance in the latter half of the year. Again, as in almost every year prior, concerns around low balled guidance by the company in January for the full year of 2013 will have been unwarranted.
The story here is so painfully simple, it is amazing that some refuse to grasp that all of the micro analyzing of Sirius XM is wholly unnecessary. Strong new auto sales bolstered by Sirius XM's foray into used autos and now into its Service Lane program, coupled with a current $2 billion share buyback, and under the guidance of John Malone's Liberty Media (LMCA), is a force to be reckoned with. Sirius XM has and will continue to perform well through 2013, and may even surprise a few naysayers with performance in Q3 and Q4. That bodes well for the stock, and that bodes well for those long Sirius XM.
Additional disclosure: I am long SIRI January 2014 calls from strikes $2 to $3.5.