Satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM saw revenues increase in the fourth quarter, but still posted a loss, due to increasing operating expenses and the strategic choice to pay off some of its debt ahead of schedule.
Still, the satcaster's full-year results showed a marked improvement from 2009-2010, reflecting a growing subscription base and slowly improving economic conditions -- especially in the automotive sector, a key sales channel for new subscriptions.
On a quarterly basis, Sirius XM said total revenues increased 8.8% -- from $676.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2009 to $735.9 million. But over the same period, profits tumbled from a gain of $11.8 million to a loss of $81.4 million. For the full year, total revenues increased 14% from $2.47 billion in 2009 to $2.82 billion in 2010, while adjusted pre-tax earnings grew from $463 million to $626 million over the same period.
The company saw its total subscription base increase 8% from 18.8 million at the end of 2009 to 20.2 million at the end of 2010.
Looking to the future, Sirius XM forecasts total revenues of about $3 billion in 2011, and sees its subscription base increasing by 1.4 million subscribers, to 21.5 million. But the company also faces growing competition from digital audio platforms.
Discussing future growth projections, CEO Mel Karmazin specifically cited the threat posed by Pandora, the popular Internet radio service, which recently announced plans for an IPO in the near future.