Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) doesn’t announce year-end earnings officially until February but CEO Mel Karmazin didn’t wait to spread some good news for a change. The satellite radio provider claims 247,182 net adds in Q4, the highest number since Q308, for a year-end total of 15,703,932 subs. In a statement, Karmazin carefully said better auto sales and in Sirius XM conversion rates, adding that it suggests the auto outlook for the auto sector and the effects of the economy on our business are beginning to improve.”
Sirius, which started the year needing a cash infusion from Liberty Media (NSDQ: LINTA) to survive, also ended 2009 with more than $100 million in free cash flow (operating cash flow minus capital expenditures) compared with negative $552 million last year; it’s the first time the company managed an entire year on the plus side for that measure. More (but not many) details in the release.
The conversion rate from trial to self-pay subscriptions rose to 46.4 percent from 44.2 percent in Q408; total paid and unpaid trials included with a car sale didn’t budge, staying level at approximately 3.6 million with Q309 and 2008. prior year. I wonder how many people never even both to turn on the free subscriptions that come with many new cars. It was such a pain to do ours we waited for three months until we had a long road trip and finally managed to complete the phone-from-the car process. (Some dealers may help with the activation or there may be an easier way we missed.) We were early Sirius subscribers, canceling finally when the billing service ran amok. Will we switch to pay this time? Not there yet. Sirius XM has a sat radio monopoly but not an in-car entertainment one.