SiriusXM Reports Best Full-Year Subscriber Growth Since 2007

Jim Meyer CEO Sirius XM 2013 P

The CEO of the satellite radio company lauds the recent deal extension with Howard Stern, saying the star is "at the top of his game" and that "firm" Stern video programming plans will be detailed later this year.

Satellite radio giant SiriusXM Radio, controlled by John Malone's Liberty Media, on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings that met analysts' expectations and posted its strongest full-year subscriber growth in eight years.

Quarterly earnings hit $135 million, or 3 cents per share, in line with Wall Street estimates, compared with $143 million in the year-ago period, or 3 cents per share. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 4 percent to $396 million. Revenue increased slightly to $1.20 billion.

Quarterly net subscriber additions came in at around 634,000, compared with 577,000 net new subs added in the year-ago quarter. The company's total subscriber base reached 29.54 million at the end of 2015.

SiriusXM added 2.28 million net new subscribers in 2015, the highest growth in net subscribers since 2007, before Sirius and XM merged. The growth in net new subscribers in 2015 represented a 30 percent increase over 2014. For 2016, SiriusXM projected net subscriber additions of approximately 1.4 million, in line with its previous guidance from early January.

For the full year 2015, SiriusXM reported record revenue of $4.57 billion, up 9 percent, record adjusted EBITDA of $1.66 billion, up 13 percent, and earnings of $510 million, up 3 percent.

Said SiriusXM CEO Jim Meyer: "We produced our best subscriber growth in eight years, taking our subscriber base to approximately 29.6 million.... We are investing in new marketing capabilities, our connected vehicle business, new satellites, a next-generation wideband chipset and, most importantly, our world-class and exclusive content. We expect that these investments, together with our long-standing focus on execution, will help us continue our long history of strong, profitable growth."

He added: "SiriusXM's strong, resilient business model and ability to deploy capital to benefit our stockholders present a compelling investment opportunity. Our content bundle of commercial-free music channels, live sports events, expanded comedy and entertainment programming remains a unique value in audio entertainment."

In mid-December, Sirius and Howard Stern announced they have re-upped their relationship in a deal that will keep the star on the air for another five years. Sirius said the deal was part of a broader 12-year agreement for Stern content. "The deal includes plans for SiriusXM to launch its first venture into video programming with Stern," the company said at the time.

Stern's contract was set to expire at the end of the year. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed, but for the past five years the company has been paying $80 million annually for Stern's show, which is live three days a week.

"This year you should expect more of the same," Meyer said on his company's earnings conference call about subscriber trends. Including the Stern and an NFL deal, "we have secured much of our content at a fixed rate for years to come," he added, emphasizing that it was important for the company to maintain its "content leadership."

About Stern, Meyer said the star "had a world of competitive choices to consider," but he decided to continue his long-running relationship with Sirius. "Howard is at the top of his game," Meyer said, adding that he was "very pleased" with the deal extension.

Touching on the issue of Sirius' planned Stern video programming venture, he said, "We are working closely with Howard and his team" and plan to announce "firm plans" later this year. “I’m pretty excited about it,” Meyer said.

He also said that “for sure, it will include allowing our subscribers to access the video feed live of The Howard Stern Show.” Subscribers would also like access to the library, he added. “The creative experience for how this will be presented to customers will be curated and controlled by Howard, and we’re in the process of working with him to make sure his vision is exactly what we want," Meyer said.