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XM subs surfacing

Losses widen but rev more than doubles

NEW YORK — XM Satellite Radio said losses widened in the fourth quarter, but its subscriber count jumped and revenue more than doubled at the fast-growing company, the larger of the nation’s two radio satcasters.

Washington, D.C.-based firm lost $190 million compared with $170 million the year earlier. Revenue surged to $83 million from $34 million. XM added more than 700,000 subs in the latest quarter to reach 3.2 million users. It expects 5.5 million subs by year’s end.

All the numbers beat Wall Street’s expectations, sending XM shares up 1.59% to $31.90.

Like its smaller rival Sirius, XM has been spending heavily on programming to build its service, including a multimillion-dollar deal with Major League Baseball. Both have been inking key pacts with automakers to install devices in new cars.

XM said it cost the company $100 to add each subscriber in 2004, down from $137 in 2003. The company disclosed that it expected to hit cash flow breakeven in 2006 and that it expects to have subscription revenues of $480 million in 2005.

2.5 mil subs foreseen

Sirius ended ’04 with more than 1.1 million subscribers and expects to finish 2005 with more than 2.5 million.

XM, which launched first, has about a year head start on Sirius. But Sirius has been garnering more headlines lately due to two big hires –former Viacom No. 2 Mel Karmazin as CEO and popular shockjock Howard Stern.

For the full year, XM reported a net loss of $651 million vs. a $604 million loss the year before. Full-year revenues jumped to $244 million from $92 million.

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