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XM Satellite Revenue Doubles

The company sees a sharp drop in its gross addition costs.

XM Satellite Radio


said revenue more than doubled from a year ago as the company posted its latest quarterly loss.

The Washington, D.C.-based pay radio company lost $118 million, or 59 cents a share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. A year ago XM lost $133 million, or $1.12 a share. Revenue surged to $65 million from $27 million a year earlier.

XM added 415,000 subscribers in the latest quarter, passing the 2.5 million-user mark during the period. The company has said it expects to hit 3.1 million subscribers by year-end. Thursday's news came a month after XM rolled out an early read on the subscriber figures, which initially disappointed some investors because of a component shortage-related shortfall.

Meanwhile, XM said it is spending less to bring each new user aboard. The company's cost per gross addition, which reflects subscriber acquisition costs plus marketing and ad spending, fell 30% from a year ago to $89. That figure is important because XM and rival


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, while well-loved by growth-seeking tech investors, have also drawn vocal critics who wonder how long the companies can go on at their current cash-incinerating pace.

XM said Thursday it had $448 million in cash and short-term investments at Sept. 30, along with a $135 million credit line from partner

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. Both XM and Sirius have focused recently on signing deals with big carmakers that make their gear factory-installed options on many vehicles.

The news comes at a pivotal time for the satellite radio companies, which saw their shares rocket in 2003. Both XM and Sirius are now trying to line up star broadcasters in order to draw in more subscribers. Last month Sirius signed up New York shock jock Howard Stern in a deal that ignited the stock but also raised concerns about the company's balance sheet. For its part, XM has signed rival shock jocks Opie and Anthony and has also landed former public radio host Bob Edwards.

Early Thursday, XM was down 16 cents at $33.18.