Sirius XM: Are We Watching The End?

May.21.12 | About: Sirius XM (SIRI)

I have a "lifetime" subscription to Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) that I purchased for $500 when Sirius announced it was signing Howard Stern for $500 million. At the time, which was back in late 2003 if I recall, I was still a "Howard" fan and did not want to miss out on his new "no holds barred" radio venture. He promised to put satellite radio on the map, bring his fans, and have folks flocking to sign up for the service.

I was hooked. I believed in the new style of radio, and I believed that Sirius would make me filthy rich with the 10,000 shares of stock I bought. I just knew that Mel Karmazin could and would deliver on anything he promised, and believed that the company's spending spree was chicken feed compared to the profits that would be made with "billions" of new subscribers paying monthly fees. I believed that every car on the planet would have satellite radio, and that the sky was the limit. Actually there WAS no limit. All without having to listen to another radio commercial and not losing my signal to my favorite channel no matter where I was driving to.

It was not long after my complete submission to the Sirius "religion", that I realized there were a few complications that I did not want to look at:

  • XM was a nasty competitor, signing up more subscribers and sealing deals with the less expensive car manufacturers

  • A "minor" detail of a $10 billion market cap on a company that was in hock up to its eyeballs and not enough income to pay for Mel's office furniture

  • Another minor issue of too many shares outstanding with more being printed, diluting the underwater value of the shares I owned even further

  • The content spending spree continued with the NFL and the NHL and not enough subscribers to break even yet. After all, content was king, right?

  • Did I mention that the actual satellites had a shelf life (that I completely ignored) and would need to be replaced eventually at amazingly high costs?

Ok, so these were all just little bumps in the road right? After all, Sirius was going to take over the world. Little did I know then but the share price would never reach 1/2 the price I had paid for it again. If not for deftly trading around my shares with options and timing trades, I would have lost a small fortune. I now do not own one share of the stock. I do know plenty of folks who have bought all the way down, up, sideways and down again. They have shares coming out of their ears and still believe that Sirius XM will finally pay off.

Get over it. It ain't happening.

SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. (<a href='' title='Sirius XM Holdings Inc.'>SIRI</a>)

The Deer Is Caught In The Headlights

Now that I have been "de-programmed" from the Sirius XM "religion" I can see clearly once again and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the future of Sirius XM is highly in doubt and in my opinion, kaput.

Don't misunderstand, satellite radio will still be around in some form or another, and the basic idea will be alive somewhere, and my lifetime subscription might be redeemable for something else down the road. The issue is whether an investor in Sirius XM will ever see any sort of capital appreciation in the short, medium and or long term.

In my humble opinion, shareholders are toast. If the entity called Sirius XM does not go bankrupt, the share price has certainly been capped, basically for good.

Two very public reasons for this can be looked at:

  • Mel Karmazin is selling shares

  • Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) is buying shares

Good old Mel had arranged for the sale of the 13 million+ shares he held options on at $.43/share well before and everyone knew about it. But Mel is a pretty smart guy- would he have filed for a change of status if he felt the share price would move higher? I have no idea, but he sold the shares.

As noted in this article:

Karmazin dumped 13.7 million shares between May 14 and May 16, according to disclosures to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Karmazin exercised his option on the shares for 43 cents per share, or a total price of $5.89 million. Karmazin then sold the same shares for $1.99 per share, netting a profit of $21.31 million in the transaction. Karmazin still holds 8.5 million shares valued at $15.56 million based on Thursday's close of $1.83 per share. Shares closed Friday at $1.88 per share.

I have a feeling that the balance of his shares will be dumped sooner than later. After all, he did sell a huge chunk back in April also, right? (Yep, nearly 6 million shares) So what does this tell me. It tells me that Mel is cashing out, period.

Liberty Media is the big dog now with almost 50% ownership of all outstanding shares, and has effectively put a cap on the share price at $2.15/share, as it continues to buy more shares to have "de-facto" control over the entire company.

The article notes:

Liberty Media Corp. has been attempting to gain a controlling stake in Sirius XM Radio and may make a push to acquire more shares before Sirius' annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Previously, Liberty Media had considered acquiring 300 million more shares of the company at a price of $2.15 per share.

Does anyone think that the share price will rise above $2.15 from this point forward? I do not believe anyone will be buying ANY shares and if they do, it might be to trade quickly, not to invest in a capped share price stock. By the way, there is no bottom until zero folks.

Check out this CNBC article for some further insight as to my opinion. I believe the author has been, and is dead on accurate as he notes:

Essentially, Liberty is saying it is not willing to pay more than $2.15 for the stock. If that's the case, why should anyone else? I think the answer to this question will become very apparent in the coming days and weeks. My suspicions tell me one clue will be more insider sales - specifically from CEO Mel Karmazin, who I'm expecting to sell more of his 49 million options at some point this week.

The author further states:

If you are keeping score at home, Karmazin still has 32 million shares left to sell and, like clockwork, investors can expect another 10 million shares to be sold on the market approximately 30 days from now. As I have said recently, there is a great chance that the stock will hit $1.65 within the next several sessions - in other words, this is bound to get worse before it gets better.

Once again I agree with the author except for one small detail: "...bound to get worse before it gets better". This will not get better for current shareholders, in my opinion.

My Opinion

Once long time shareholders and believers in the Sirius XM "religion" become de-programmed and come back down to face reality, the facts will become crystal clear. This company will never be what it once promised.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.