4 Questions That Sirius XM Will Soon Answer

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Another day, another new multi-year high for Sirius XM Radio (NAS: SIRI) .

The satellite radio giant traded as high as $2.97 today, taking investors all the way back to March of 2008 to find the last time that the stock was trading this high.

It may seem to be an odd time for the satellite radio's stock to be hitting four-year highs. CEO Mel Karmazin has been unloading shares in recent months, the company's in the process of a shift in control, and a settlement was reached in AT&T's (NYS: T) quest to beef up its 4G wireless range in a move that may interfere with Sirius XM's transmissions.


To be fair, the settlement with AT&T is fair for both sides. Ma Bell is setting aside spectrum that is closest to Sirius XM's range. Everything should be business as usual on that front.

However, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered.

1. Who will be Sirius XM's CEO come 2013?
We're closing in on the end of Karmazin's contract with Sirius XM, and we may know soon if he's sticking around.

Karmazin told investors this summer that he expects the company's board to "deal with it" before Sirius XM's next conference call, and that call is now less than two weeks away.

Despite the recent verbal jockeying for position between Karmazin and Liberty Media (NAS: LMCA) CEO Greg Maffei, it's clear that the market's been happy with the work that Karmazin has done in recent years. Sure, the stock was sharply higher when he first arrived, but the stock has been one of the market's biggest winners over the past three years.

It wouldn't be a surprise to see the stock take a hit if he decides to either retire, or work for another media company.

2. How will Liberty Media's takeover play out?
Armed with nearly 50% of Sirius XM, it's really just a matter of time before the Liberty Media takes majority control of the company.

On the downside, a popular theory is that Liberty Media will then distribute its stake to shareholders in a tax-advantaged spinoff. The move would probably weigh on the shares, given the thicker float and wave of selling by Liberty Media investors.

The upside here is that some believe that a massive share buyback will accompany the move, softening the negative impact of the Liberty Media distribution, while lowering the number of shares outstanding. The stock's been rising in recent months, so the market seems to be betting that this will play out just fine.

3. What will Sirius XM's music discovery offering be like?
Sirius XM will be the latest company to take on Pandora (NYS: P) when it introduces its own music discovery service. All we know is that Sirius XM expects to introduce it before the end of the year -- and the company's usually pretty good about keeping these kind of rollout forecasts.

Sirius XM will have company. Beyond Pandora and Spotify's recent push for custom-generated play lists, even Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) is getting in on this niche. It introduced Xbox Music on Monday, a platform for both diehard gamers and Windows 8 users that will including a Pandora-like element similar to what Sirius XM has in the works.

It may be a cluttered market, but Sirius XM's reach when it comes to folks willing to pay a premium for radio cannot be underestimated.

4. Will guidance be raised in two weeks?
Sirius XM has already hit investors with one piece of good news this month. It signed up so many new subscribers during the last three months that it's bumping its 2012 net sub additions from 1.6 million to 1.8 million.

Revenue guidance should follow suit when Sirius XM reports later this month. After all, if there are more subscribers coming than expected, it should mean more money. Given the scalable nature of this model, where variable costs are low but fixed overhead is high, it's also fair to say that Sirius XM will also deliver meaty upgrades to its adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow targets.

Then again, we don't know if that will happen -- and much less by how much -- until Sirius XM serves up its quarterly results on the morning of Oct. 30.

Gee, did Sirius XM really pick the day before Halloween to announce its latest financials? Let's hope that it's more trick than treat.

Running of the bulls
I recently put out a premium report on Sirius XM Radio, detailing the challenges and opportunities that await investors that are both long and short the dynamic media giant. A year of updates is also included with the report. Check it out now.

The article 4 Questions That Sirius XM Will Soon Answer originally appeared on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Aristotle Munarriz owns shares of Liberty Media. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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