Sirius XM Radio posts $4.88B loss after charge

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Sirius XM Radio Inc. said its loss widened to $4.88 billion in the third quarter after the satellite-radio provider booked a hefty impairment charge related to a drop in the company's stock.

Sirius XM was created by the combination of satellite-radio companies Sirius and XM in July. It reported results Monday after the closing bell.

For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the New York-based company's losses widened to $1.93 per share, from a loss of $120.1 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company's results include only two months of operations at XM. It also includes a $4.8 billion impairment charge to goodwill, mostly related to a drop in the company's share price since its agreement to combine in February 2007.

The company's adjusted results exclude the impairment charge and assume the combination of XM and Sirius occurred at the beginning of the year. Those results show that the loss narrowed to $217 million, or 9 cents per share, from a loss of $265.5 million, or 18 cents per share, in the prior year.

Actual revenue more than doubled to $488.4 million from $241.8 million. On an adjusted basis, revenue gained 16 percent to $612.8 million, from $529.2 million last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude unusual items, forecast losses of 9 cents per share on revenue of $587.4 million.

"Sirius XM third-quarter results demonstrate strong revenue growth, solid cost control and most importantly a clear path to positive cash flow," said Chief Executive Mel Karmazin in a statement. He noted that self-pay monthly customer churn remained flat from last year at 1.7 percent.

The CEO also said total operating costs - excluding expenses related to the combination - declined in the third quarter. "In the first 60 days following the merger, Sirius XM is operationally very close to break-even," he said.

Sirius ended the quarter with 18.9 million subscribers, a 17 percent gain over its 16.2 million subscribers at the end of last year's third quarter.

Last week, Sirius XM projected it will end 2008 with 19.1 million subscribers and 2009 with 20.6 million subscribers. The company continues to expect revenue to total $2.7 billion in 2009 and $3 billion in 2010.

Analysts forecast 2009 revenue of $2.69 billion and 2010 revenue of $2.94 billion.

Sirius XM said the difficult economic environment, particularly a dramatic slowdown in auto sales, have hurt subscriber growth for 2008 and 2009. The company generates many of its new customers through sales of cars that have its radios installed at the factory.

Sirius XM said it will delay filing its quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission for up to 5 days to review the required purchase accounting adjustments.

Shares of Sirius XM fell 2 cents, or 6.67 percent, to 25 cents in late morning trading.

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