By Brandon Matthews
Here we go again folks. Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) is once again on the road to regaining NASDAQ compliance, having completed the first day of the one dollar minimum bid requirement. On the heels of the company’s pre-release that it had added 171,144 net subscribers in the first quarter, SIRI shares jumped over 13% to close at $1.09. Shares Thursday morning are trading at $1.10/1.11, and have reached a high of $1.14 in the “pre” premarket session.
Within the press release there was a noticeable absence, in that there was a lack of any specific financial results. The release stated simply that: “We also expect to report solid revenue growth and strong growth in pro forma adjusted income from operations for the first quarter of 2010.” The last time Sirius XM pre-released data, the statement included specifics, such as the expectation to report over $100 million in free cash flow, and that it expected to meet guidance and report over $400 million in pro forma adjusted operating income. Clearly, Sirius XM is saving those bullets, should they become needed during the next nine trading days. I suspect they may have others as well.
Based on the preliminary numbers, Tuna Amobi of Standard & Poor’s released a note in which he suggests that Sirius XM’s guidance may be conservative. This may suggest that the company could increase guidance if necessary. Mr Amobi writes:
SIRI pre-announces Q1 net adds over 171,000, well above our estimate, on higher gross adds, stable churn, and improved self-pay conversion of auto OEM promotional subscribers. With U.S. light vehicle sales seen rebounding 12% to 11.6M units in ‘10, SIRI’s target for over 500,000 net adds (with 7% and 20% projected ‘10 growth in revenue and adjusted EBITDA, respectively) could be conservative. With Q1 release likely in early May, encouraging news could help gradually dissipate a lingering delisting overhang on the shares, recently vacillating around the critical $1 threshold.
Sirius XM’s net additions left the company just 56,000 shy of the 19 million subscriber mark. With the quarter halfway completed, an announcement could come at any time that the benchmark number has been surpassed. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett had anticipated a net loss of 161,000 subscribers in Q1. Sirius XM’s results will likely yield an upgrade as a result, which could also be released at any time.
Sirius XM had made a previous run at regaining compliance, which was stalled after eight days due to concerns over potential weakness in auto sales that never materialized. Looking at April auto sales, Ford (NYSE: F) has already reported that April sales are ahead of the numbers posted a year ago. Edmunds.com is reporting that car loan rates have fallen to record lows. Early auto sales projections for April will begin shortly, and these look to add strength to the Sirius XM story. Jim Cramer even seems to be coming around, recently stating that Sirius XM might be a good way to play a recovery in the auto sector.
With all of these potential catalysts remaining, Sirius XM is poised to run, perhaps bidding farewell to the 99 cent menu once and for all.
Disclosure: Long SIRI