Sirius XM Posts First Profits Since Merger, But Will Stern Stay?

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For the first time since their 2008 merger, Sirius XM radio are in the black with a $14.2 million profit in the fourth quarter of 2009, the New York Times reports. That might not sound like much — it equates to less than penny gain per stock share — but considering Sirius XM lost $245 million in the year following the merger, the profit represents a financial shift for the company. Sirius XM were helped by the fact that the automobile industry, an indispensable partner for the satellite radio company (people love their car stereos), showed signs of post-recession recovery. Sirius XM anticipated another half-million new customers by the end of 2010.

At press time, Sirius XM's stock currently sits at $1.03 — again, not a huge number — but the stock had sunk to as low as 12 cents in the past 52 weeks while the company narrowly avoided bankruptcy at one point. As Rolling Stone previously reported, last May Sirius XM reported its first-ever drop in subscribers — and many listeners were initially rankled by station shifts as the company consolidated channels. According to the NYT, lower costs and an increase of new-car buyers purchasing a subscription after their free trial expired also contributed to Sirius XM's turnaround.

Total revenue for Sirius XM was $684 million, beating out industry expectations by $20 million. One dark cloud on the horizon, however, is the possible departure of shock jock Howard Stern, whose massive five-year contract with Sirius wraps up at year's end.

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