The Buzz

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Here's hoping Howard Stern and Mel Karmazin have invested their money wisely and aren't counting on stock options from Sirius. Satellite radio has gotten a lot of attention ever since Mel and Howard signed on, but analysts jumped in last week with red-ink warnings for both Sirius and XM, saying their share prices were too expensive given the lack of profits at either company. XM's stock price has risen about 50% this year while Sirius' has nearly tripled. Sirius last week was boasting of signing its 1 millionth subscriber, but it still trails XM's 3.1 million subscribers. Sirius hopes its signing the King of All Media for 2006 will boost its fortunes, and that its National Football League deal will continue to help it attract listeners. XM, meanwhile, is touting its Major League Baseball deal, as well as its deals with several automakers. But Wall Street remains skeptical that any of the programming will pull satellite radio into profitability. XM loses money on every customer, with a negative gross profit margin of 20%. But this is one area where Sirius beats the pants off XM, carrying a negative gross profit margin of 402%. Banc of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby put out a report last week that said there's been "too much hype and expectation" around Sirius due to Karmazin and Stern. "We continue to believe that the stock is significantly ahead of itself," he wrote in the report.
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