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Auto Sales Comeback Boosted Sirius Subscriptions In 2010

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Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) benefited greatly from the recovery of the auto industry last year. Thanks to deals for adding the Sirius XM player to new cars, the company was able to reach 20.2 million subscribers at the end of 2010. In its annual report (pdf), Sirius says it expects that number to grow by 1.4 mm in 2011. So far, by the time Q2 got started, the satellite service had 20.6 mm subs.

Sirius also attempts to lay out a case for its continued revenue success — it expects to bring in $3 billion in sales this year — against a rising sea of competitors like Pandora (NYSE: P) and Spotify on the digital side and established companies like Clear Channel (OTCBB: CCMO). For example, it claims that Pandora gets $1.68 per user, while Clear Channel derives $13.61. In contrast, Sirius XM says it gets $141 from each sub.

Still, the company remains plagued by debt. As noted, Moody’s raised Sirius’ credit ratings from B3 to B2 and raised its probability of default rating from B2 to B1. So Sirius is still in “junk bond” territory, but this is nevertheless a vote of confidence.