Sirius XM takes $4.8 billion charge due to share plunge

NEW YORK Mon Nov 10, 2008 7:07pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sirius XM Radio Inc posted a $4.8 billion write-down of goodwill related to its acquisition of satellite radio rival XM, and said the auto industry's "dramatic" woes have hurt subscriber growth.

The company blamed the write-down, which added to its operational losses in the third quarter, on the significant decline in its share price from February 2007, when the merger was first announced. At that time, Sirius traded at about $3.79, compared with 27 cents at the close on Monday.

Chief Executive Mel Karmazin defended the company, saying that while it provides a radio service that subscribers enjoy, it is powerless to fix the economic troubles that have beset the auto industry -- its biggest source of new subscribers.

"We think the environment sucks," he said on a conference call with analysts. "It is not like we're doing something wrong. It is that, unfortunately, we do not have a whole lot of control over what cars are getting sold. We do our best."

Sirius, whose stock price has since plunged on concerns about subscriber growth and its ability to repay debt, posted a net loss of $4.88 billion, or $1.93 per share.

It said its pro forma third-quarter loss was $217 million, or 9 cents a share, compared with $265.5 million, or 18 cents per share, a year ago. The pro forma figures assume that Sirius and XM were one company a year ago.

Pro forma revenue rose 16 percent to $613 million. Analysts were looking for revenue of $575 million and a loss per share of 9 cents for the quarter.

Sirius reiterated its outlook, but analysts said that was overshadowed by concerns over its ability to pay its debt, and the moves it is planning to bring its stock back over $1 a share.

"It will be hard to get investors focused on the financial results until Sirius obtains the refinancing for the debt that is due in 2009," said Janco Partners analyst April Horace.

Karmazin said he expects the company to work through the refinancing of more than $1 billion in debt due on 2009. He added that a $300 million portion due in February has been reduced to $210 million, and that the company is talking to its lenders about refinancing.

"We remain optimistic," he said on the call. "The company remains confident that we will in short order get the February '09 refinancing done."

Sirius is also considering a reverse stock split in an effort to lift its depressed share price and avoid the risk of being delisted from the Nasdaq stock market.

It said it added 344,100 net subscribers in the quarter, ending the period with 18.9 million subscribers. That is an increase of 17 percent from one year ago.

The company said churn, the rate at which users quit the service, was about 1.7 percent for the first nine months of the year, about the same as in 2007.

Sirius repeated that it expects to end 2008 with 19.1 million subscribers and end 2009 with 20.6 million subscribers. The company added that it remains confident in its guidance for revenue and adjusted earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2008 and 2009, reiterating figures that it gave last week.

(Reporting by Franklin Paul, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Richard Chang)

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