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Sirius' Hopes Keep Slipping Away

This post appeared earlier today on RealMoney. Click here for a free trial, and enjoy incisive commentary all day, every day.

Sirius (SIRI) is one of those stocks that used to plague me when I was a broker. When XM and Siriuis went public years ago, not a day would go by without calls from clients urging me to pick up some of these stocks for their portfolios. These two stocks were their own little Internet bubble.

I always thought that both were too leveraged and that the technology would not be quite a big a hit as everyone thought. Of course, this just got worse after Howard Stern was signed. The thought at the time was that Howard would turn out to be worth the price, and everyone would cash in a big way. They were partially right. Howard cashed in very big indeed. No one else did.

If I look at this company in a rational manner, I believe it will disappear from the landscape. The subscribers will go to another tech or entertainment company in bankruptcy proceedings. Subscription radio just does not have that much appeal to most people. The people I know who have satellite radio in their cars have new cars and are still enjoying the first free year. In talking with people, I find that the renewable rate is incredibly low. Even those who liked some of the various programs did not believe the renewal rate was worth the service.

I also see significant competition for the company going forward. Most of the younger people I know have iPod docks in their vehicles for listening to music. Smartphones are bringing music and podcasts to mobile consumers. E-reading machines have wireless connections that can eventually deliver content on a subscription or pay-per-use basis. I really do not need the sports channels from Sirius if I can watch and listen to the games I want on my phone. As time goes by, satellite radio will be viewed as a stepping-stone technology that was replaced by smartphones and other portable media devices.

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