Business

SiriusXM Ended Pandemic Year With $8 Billion in Revenue, Bump in Subscribers

Howard Stern
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Howard Stern attends Sony Pictures Classics & The Cinema Society Host A Hamptons Screening Of "David Crosby: Remember My Name" at United Artists East Hampton Cinema on July 13, 2019 in East Hampton, N.Y.

Shaking off a pandemic that hurt auto sales and crimped consumer spending, SiriusXM posted record revenue of $8.04 billion in 2020, a 3.2% improvement from 2019.

If smooth and steady growth is boring in the digital media world, SiriusXM can outright put onlookers to sleep. But such is life for a subscription-based service that consistently adds satellite customers and carefully maintains expenses. In fact, SiriusXM eliminated surprises by releasing important information ahead of its earnings release on Tuesday (February 2). On Jan. 8, the company revealed its subscriber growth for 2020 and warned its income statement would take a non-cash hit from a write-down of Pandora’s book value.

In recent years, SiriusXM has expanded beyond its core satellite business and into streaming with acquisitions Pandora and Stitcher — a deal that closed in the fourth quarter — and an investment in SoundCloud in February.

Results have been mixed even though overall revenue continues to grow. Pandora, acquired in February 2019 for $3.5 billion, complements the satellite service and gives SiriusXM's 360L in-car entertainment platform an Internet service. But Pandora has struggled, gaining 138,000 subscribers — a 2.2% increase — but losing 8.5% of its 66.6 million monthly users since the acquisition in the first quarter of 2019. Coupled with growing royalty costs, Pandora's shrinking listener numbers caused SiriusXM to write down the platform's book value by $976 million in the fourth quarter.

"It has been harder than we expected," CEO Jennifer Witz said of integrating Pandora into the overall business. Nevertheless, Pandora provided SiriusXM an inexpensive complement to its satellite business — Spotify's market value was $24.5 billion at the time and $64.5 billion today. Another recent acquisition, podcasting aggregator Stitcher, plus an investment in SoundCloud, for which Pandora sells advertisements, extended SiriusXM further into streaming.

Podcasts in particular offer "a lot of opportunity to grow" by selling ads across formats — radio and podcasts, said Witz.

SiriusXM's share price fell 2.7% following the earnings release, giving the company a $34.9 billion enterprise value. It might have room to grow: the 17 equity analysts following SiriusXM have a median price target of $7.50, according to Refinitiv, a 23.4% upside from the current price.

2020 overall results

  • Overall revenue grew 3.22% from $7.79 billion to $8.04 billion.
  • Satellite radio revenue gained 2.5% from $6.19 billion to $6.35 billion.
  • Net income fell from $243 million to a net loss of $677 million due to a $976 million write-down of Pandora’s book value in the fourth quarter.
  • Adjusted EBITDA (with Pandora impairment charge removed) rose 6.1% from $2.43 billion to $2.58 billion.

2020 Pandora results

  • Ad revenue fell 1.4% from $1.2 billion to $1.18 billion.
  • Subscriber revenue fell 2.3% from $527 million to $515 million.
  • Pandora ad-supported listener hours declined 7% from 13.44 billion to 12.5 billion.
  • Pandora gross profit percentage fell 8% from 36% to 34%.

2020 Listener metrics

  • Self-pay satellite subscribers grew 3.0% from 29.98 million to 30.89 million.
  • Pandora advertising revenue per 1,000 listener hours dipped 1.5% from $80.41 to $79.24.

Q4 results

  • Revenue rose 6.2% from $2.07 billion to $2.19 billion.
  • Adjusted EBITDA (without the Pandora impairment charge) improved 12.4% from $587 million to $660 million.
  • Q4 satellite ARPU rose 2.1% from $14.03 to $14.33.
  • Q4 Pandora free listeners dropped 8.4% from 57.3 millions to 52.5 million.
  • Q4 Pandora self-pay subscribers rose 2.2% from 6.17 million to 6.3 million.

2021 guidance

  • Total revenue of $8.35 billion, a 3.7% increase.
  • Adjusted EBITDA of $2.575 billion, roughly flat from 2020.