When the Street is expecting something big to be announced and it does not happen, disappointment can set in -- even if it's short-lived. With Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) on the cusp of gaining control of Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), the Street was building up expectations of news surrounding that issue -- not the boilerplate company outlook that has been heard time and time again.
In the mind of Wall Street, the Liberty Media Investor Conference held today seemed a natural stage for something big to finally be announced regarding Sirius XM and Liberty. Yes, there was some discussion relative to the performance of Sirius XM and that was positive, but the Street wanted more. Yes, 445,921 subscriber additions and guidance of 1.8 million is good, but in my opinion it was not enough. Ever see a kid who wants an Xbox for Christmas and instead gets a Nintendo Wii? That is the essence of what transpired today.
From a technical standpoint, Sirius XM was showing every sign that big news could make it pop and test new highs, while the same old news -- as rosy as it might be -- would see it test lower levels. The company did announce subscribers and finally increased subscriber guidance, but these numbers were somewhat expected. This news would have carried more impact earlier this month. This brings up the question of how to play Sirius XM in the next two weeks, leading into the Q3 conference call set for Oct. 30.
In many ways, there is an opportunity at hand. The long-term prospects of Sirius XM appear sound and when 2013 guidance is issued, which should happen in the Q3 call, the valuation of the company will fall in line with what currently may appear as overly optimistic expectations. Recently, Bank of America's Jessica Reif Cohen set a $3.75 price target on Sirius XM based on 2014 estimates, and Maxim's John Tinker increased his price target to $3.80. Certainly there is room to grow over the next 12 months.
In my mind, a dip to the 50-day moving average, which currently sits at about $2.48, is an opportunity to lock in some positive developments in the coming months. While the 50-day average may not get tested, I feel that the event today did not offer enough meat to satisfy the current price for a sustained amount of time. Essentially, a dip is in the cards. Even with a more conservative price target of $3.25, the implied gain would be 30%. Not bad for a few months work!
As the Liberty Media situation does begin to pan out, it is expected that Sirius XM will initiate a share buyback program that will begin to solve the problem of a huge share count. This is another one of those anticipated news items that needs to come to a resolution sooner or later. It could be that the lack of any "impact" news will temper the Street prior to the Q3 conference call, which carries its own set of dynamics.
Sirius XM is performing well. There is no doubt about that. The auto sector, which fuels Sirius XM's growth, is hitting on all cylinders, and prospects look great for 2013 and beyond. The Q3 conference call should hit on these issues and focus on revenue generation, EBITDA, and free cash flow (FCF). We should even see guidance for 2013 issued. The backdrop for this is a quarter in which the company will likely report 2 cents per share ($0.016 rounder up) in earnings. The 2 cents is not hitting it out of the ballpark, but there are very positive reasons for that. The company paid down and refinanced debt during the quarter, which will have substantial costs, likely over $100 million. As long as you are valuing Sirius XM properly by EBITDA or FCF, there will be no issue with the 2 cents. If you are expecting 3 cents, you may be disappointed.
The bottom line is that the Liberty situation will take time to pan out, and while disappointed in the short term the Street will absorb the news. 2013 guidance is the key here, and if announced in the next two weeks should allow this equity to test new highs with comfort rather than trepidation, hope, and speculation.
Simply stated, I see this dip as an opportunity that may not come around again for a while -- take advantage of it.
Disclosure: I am long SIRI, LMCA. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.