Sirius Q3 adds to positive sat radio news

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Sirius Satellite Radio on Wednesday served up a third-quarter loss smaller than what analysts anticipated, the second time this week investors were treated to good news from the pay radio sector.

The Sirius report came two days after XM Satellite Radio also reported a loss that was less than expected, a bit of good news that had its beleaguered shares surging 15% in a day.

Sirius stock, having already rallied this week off of XM's good report, was subdued Wednesday, rising fractionally to $4.12.

The company reported a net loss of $162.9 million, down from a year ago loss of $180.4 million. On a per-share basis, Sirius lost 12 cents while analysts predicted a 14-cent loss. Revenue climbed 150% to $167.1 million.

As previously announced, Sirius added 441,101 net subscribers during the quarter, bringing its total to more than 5.1 million. Perhaps more important, the company stuck by its guidance of finishing the year with 6.3 million subs.

XM, on the other hand, has repeatedly reined in subscriber growth expectations this year, saying Monday that it will end the year with 7.7 million-7.9 million subs.

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin said he expects a good holiday season, even if it doesn't match last year's performance that was fueled by hype about Howard Stern's arrival.

"Consumer awareness and consumer satisfaction with Sirius continues to be very positive," he told Wall Street analysts Wednesday.

Analysts were worried that Sirius and XM might have relatively sluggish holiday sales, in part because some radios weren't being manufactured because of FCC objections about emission standards. More recently, both companies assured investors that inventory is not a problem for fourth-quarter sales.

"I can tell you that retail is expected to be strong," Karmazin said.
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