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New New line-up from Sirius-XM imminent
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New New line-up from Sirius-XM imminent - 10-November-2008, 12:00

New line-up from Sirius-XM imminent

Sirius and XM sat-radio services will reportedly be combined on Wednesday, Nov 12. It is the end of a process that started when the two businesses were formally linked in July this year (Howard Sterns popular show is already on both systems, for example).

This move is the culmination of the merger plan between Sirius and XM Satellite that was first announced in February 2007. The problem is that Sirius needs a great deal more cash, first to roll-over debt calls that are now getting closer and then to help finance the merger itself.

Two reports were issued last week in response to Sirius latest official guidance. Analyst Kit Spring of Stifel noted that Sirius XM Radios financial guidance exceeds Stifels own model. Spring says that stable churn is important, and if the company can maintain stability in churn, even in tough economic times, then it may help give some validity to the business model. Stifels team are maintaining a Buy rating on Sirius XM with a price target of $1.25.

The second analyst was Mark Wienkes of investment bankers Goldman Sachs. Wienkes notes that Sirius now estimates 2008 year end subs at 19.1m versus the previously estimated 19.5m, and this is further down on the Goldman estimate of 19.6m. Wienkes adds that Sirius XM ended its Q2 with 18.6m subs, and this new guidance suggests growth of only about 500,000 net additions in this current half-year including the all-important pre-holiday selling season and well down on the 900,000 previously forecast, and an ultra-low performance when compared to the 1.95m added during the same half-year in 2007.

Sirius has to find or replace about $1.1bn of borrowings next year with $300m due in February. Not unreasonably, Sirius admits the current financial downturn is hurting it, and the dramatic evaporation of new car sales in the US is not going to help matters.

As to the future, Sirius expects that by the end of 2009 it will have 20.6m subs, 22.2m in 2010, 24m by 2011, 26.2m in 2012, and 28.4m by the end of 2013.
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