Sirius Finally Turns a Profit

Satellite radio company posts first quarterly jump since merger with XM

Sirius XM turned a small profit in the fourth quarter, the company said on Thursday – the first since the Sirius and XM merger in 2008.

The satellite radio – which had been on the verge of bankruptcy in early 2009 — generated $14.2 million during the quarter, up from a loss of $245.8 million during the last three months of 2008. Revenue increased 6.2 percent to $683.8 million for the period.

Sirius chief Mel Karmazin attributed the turnaround in part to a jump in subscribers, as the company added 257,028 during the fourth quarter, helping offset a dip in ad revenue. For the year, however, the total number of subscribers slipped to 18.8 million from about 19 million, the company said.

Karamazin said he hopes to add a net of 500,000 new subscribers in 2010.

It’s also a critical year for Sirius in terms of talent. Howard Stern — its main draw — can walk at the end of 2010, when his five-year, $500 million contract expires. The shock jock has hinted he might, and few industry observers feel Sirius can afford to give Stern another blockbuster contract.

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