Despite another dramatic decline in automobile sales last month, analysts say Sirius XM ( SIRI) should easily outlast the storm. Thanks to increasing car models that are coming off the assembly line with Sirius or XM receivers installed in their dashboards, Sirius XM should see rising penetration rates offset the rapid slide in new vehicle sales. In September, Ford ( F) said vehicle sales tumbled 34%, General Motors ( GM) saw a 16% decline, and Toyota ( TM) reported a 30% drop in sales. "We are experiencing sales levels that were last seen in the early 1990s," says Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. "Total industry sales this year will probably not be above the 1995 levels. Overall, sales are down and there is really no hope in the immediate future for a full recovery." It would seem that this news would hit shares of Sirius XM particularly hard. After all, the vehicle installation side of Sirius XM's business, referred to as original equipment manufacturer or OEM, is key to the company's success as a merged unit. The satellite radio company has shifted dramatically from the weakening retail channel to installing receivers in automobiles. "The retail channel continues to be a small contributor to net
revenue-generating unit additions," says David Joyce, media analyst with Miller Tabak. "Going forward, the big growth is going to be from the automotive channel." The data certainly back up Joyce's claim. More than 87% of Sirius' net subscriber additions in the company's last quarter as a standalone company came from automotive subsidies that converted into paying customers. In XM's final quarter as a solo business, it had 360,000 net additions from its OEM business, while the retail side saw a net loss of 38,000 users.