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Sirius XM: A Tale of Two Stocks

Stocks in this article: SIRI LMCA AAPL MSFT GOOG

I understood that it was the first time the stock had broken the 30-cent level since November of the previous year. Many didn't know what I already knew -- the worst was over. The stock reached a high on that day at 38 cents per share and closed at 33 cents. But it was just the beginning.

Sirius' execution during the entire 2009 was "mixed," to put it mildly. A stock does not flirt with death because expectations are high. What sort of realistic demands can there be during a recovery? The economy had not yet seen the worst and auto sales were plummeting fast. Sirius was hemorrhaging subscribers each quarter and its CEO, Mel Karmazin, couldn't stop the bleeding.

Then something changed. After having lost 590,000 subscribers in the first half of 2009, Sirius was able to recover 60% of those subscribers in the second half of the year. With the investors having taken this as a sign that the "worst is over," Sirius ended the year trading at 59 cents per share. In nine months my $5,000 investment had made 84% and I entered 2010 playing with house money. Vegas, er, the Street, didn't know what hit them.

The Worst of Times: Missed a 2-Bagger

A little more than a year ago, I outsmarted myself. In May 2012, I announced here that shares of Sirius XM would not go higher than $2. My premise was simple: The stock was expensive. Given its price-to-earnings ratio, which was in the mid-30s at the time, there was little value to be had.

Complicating matters, the company's CEO, along with several other insiders were dumping the stock at rapid rates, under $2 per share. Plus, Karmazin still had millions more worth of options to exercise under his pre-planned sales.

In the midst of all of this, there was the ongoing drama of Liberty Media (LMCA) and its fight to gain control of Sirius.

Given how much Wall Street hates uncertainty, I felt these events had relegated Sirius to one of the best short plays on the market. I felt the stock was going to $1.65 (at least). But as the stock fell to $1.80 (twice) I still didn't pull the trigger to buy. But Sirius would never fell below $1.80.

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