It's beginning to feel like the old days. For those of us who have been covering this sector for many years, there is certain "Je ne c'est quoi" feeling in the air. I'm referring to the landslide of Sirius XM press releases that are keeping the company in the spotlight this week.
I realize that to the untrained eye, they seem to offer very little substance. The start of the NFL season, Monica Seles hosting a 5 week series, Mel Karmazin speaking at the Merrill Lynch conference, The Grateful Dead's anniversary exclusive premier of their new album, to name a few. There have been many more. Much more in fact since the merger was approved, than have been seen in a very long time.
Perhaps it's business as usual, and the drawn out merger process and months of silence have me filled with unwarranted anticipation. Perhaps its the lack of a firm guidance call date from the company following Labor Day. Still, I cannot shake the feeling that I have seen this before.
I recall this scenario being the former CEO Joseph Clayton's modus operandi (M.O.). Joe Clayton would trickle seemingly meaningless news before earnings releases or more often, prior to dropping bombshell news such as the signing of the N.F.L . deal. We always knew when big news was coming.
People are hungry for information on the combined company. I have noticed many Internet clearance ads for Sirius radios. This tells me that new offerings are set to be launched. We've seen evidence of cost cutting. But it's what we haven't seen that leads our imaginations astray. One of the latest rumors is that Sirius XM will be part of the soon to be announced iPod offering, which happens to be occurring on the very same day that Mel Karmazin will be addressing the Merrill Lynch conference.
"In a research note Aug. 14, Citi analyst Tony Wible speculated that a Sirius-Apple collaboration may not be that far off. Wible wrote that Sirius XM's future is as a content provider and that satellite radio and the iPod can coexist. "Reports of a new Internet streaming application that would allow Sirius XM users to get content on their iPhones and other portable devices are now emerging and highlight that (the company's) value lies in its content and not its hardware or infrastructure," says Wible, adding that a Sirius XM collaboration with Apple could allow the satellite radio company to cut costs while adding subscribers. For its part, Sirius XM could generate demand for music sales on Apple's iTunes. " Source
Or perhaps, it is a build up to the new guidance that all are expecting. Perhaps its something no one is expecting. No matter what it is, there's a feeling in the air that something good is about to happen.
Position: Long SIRI