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TheStreet Open House

How Apple Will Force Sirius to Face the Music

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Shares of Sirius XM (SIRI - Get Report) closed Friday at $3.16, down 1.25% for the week. Shares are down almost 10% year to date.

The stock benefited from a couple of catalysts this week. First, Sirius added two new channels to its growing lineup, one being Raw Dog Sirius XM Comedy Hits. The other catalyst, and perhaps more important, Sirius received upgrades from Standard & Poor's and Moody's on the company's 5.25% senior notes.

Moody's upgraded the notes from B1 to Baa3 while Standard & Poor's raised its rating to BBB from BB. These notes were coming due 2022, on which Sirius had granted liens. Now, aside from granting Sirius more liquidity options, these ratings don't materially address my concerns about its future. But all of that can change.

It's been pointed out that my recent Sirius discussions have been too bearish. I've been told that "I'm not seeing the forest for the trees." What I do see, however, is a company being attacked from all angles, especially from Apple (AAPL). Apple is now in the automobile dashboard. And it won't be just a drive-by. Sirius' first-to-market advantage has no bearing on its fate.

Given Apple's recent agreement with National Public Radio (NPR), Apple is gearing up to give Sirius a run for its money. And I mean that literally. We've all heard, "Content is king." As such, Sirius investors have never taken Apple seriously. Likewise, Pandora (P) has always been referred to as a "jukebox."

But with NPR in the mix, Apple is now breaking away from its "music-only" status. Plus, very few people aware that has entered the realm of concert sponsorships. The company is promoting a live music event for Maroon 5 on June 20. This is in addition to Apple's international expansion plans. iTunes Radio is now available in New Zealand and Australia.

This means Sirius will need to add more than a few new channels to keep its subscribers from fleeing. There's more to Apple these days than its entry into the automobile. While Pandora has already laid its own ground work, it, too, is on the verge of death. But a Sirius/Pandora union can tackle Apple together. A Pandora acquisition by Sirius should be done for the same reasons Sirius merged with XM. Its life depends on it.

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