Analyst: Howard Stern's Decision Doesn't Impact Sirius

Analyst says that either way, it could end up being a wash, financially speaking.

With apologies to the Clash -- a band heard frequently on Sirius XM's '80s channels -- should he stay or should he go?

We're talking about Howard Stern, and Sirius XM may or may not update Wall Street during its earnings call Thursday as to whether he'll stick around and, if so, how much it will cost. Stern's five-year contract expires at the end of the year.

An analyst who upped his price target on Sirius on Wednesday said that, in a nutshell, it might not matter too much whether Stern stays or goes.

Matthew Harrigan at Wunderlich Securites figures that if Stern stays on at his current salary of $100 million annually, or if he leaves and takes 1 million subscribers with him, it's a wash, financially speaking.

Sirius XM won't disclose how many of its 19.9 million subscribers listen Stern, but Harrigan estimates it's about 3 million. And he said that if Stern and Sirius XM drag out negotiations, it's a good thing.

"We actually regard an extended face-off as a form of free marketing for both Stern and Sirius," Harrigan wrote in his reasearch note, which he called, "Sternonomics, with apologies to Freakonomics."

Of course, if Sirius XM can sign Stern for less money, or if he leaves and fewer than 1 million subscribers defect, it can be a plus for shareholders.

Harrigan also sees as positives a decent market for new cars and new satellite radio technology coming next year that could allow users to personalize their listening, much as they use DVRs to personalize TV viewing.

Harrigan upped his target price by 25 cents to $1.75. The stock closed flat Wednesday at $1.57. 

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