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Sirius dials in 1st qtr. loss

Co. to continue with expansion

No. 2 radio satcaster Sirius Satellite Radio posted a deeper loss for the first quarter of 2002, but the company said it plans to expand its staggered rollout to 10 more states and remains on target for a nationwide launch by July 1.

Sirius also said it strengthened ties with automaker DaimlerChrysler, which confirmed that it will offer Sirius-enabled radios as an option on Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Mercedes-Benz cars sold in the U.S. beginning this fall.

Sirius said it lost $90 million in the latest quarter, compared with a $64 million loss in the same period a year earlier. On a cash-flow basis, Sirius’ losses also widened, to $45 million from $36 million last year, as rollout expenses mounted.

Offering some reassurance to investors who have fretted that radio satcasters may run out of money before they take root, Sirius said it had $423 million in cash and marketable investments on the books at the end of March.

The 10-state expanded rollout, set to begin today, brings Sirius’ coverage area to a total of 28 states. Company is chasing its main rival, XM, which rolled out nationally in November and has rapidly built up a base of more than 75,000 subscribers.

Sirius’ DaimlerChrysler deal reinforces a relationship begun three years ago, when the carmaker invested $100 million in the satcaster. Latest stage of the partnership also gives DaimlerChrysler a warrant to buy up to 4 million Sirius shares at $15 — replacing a similar warrant priced at $60.

Sirius shares edged up 5% Tuesday to $4.41. Meanwhile, XM jumped nearly 8% to $8.96, reclaiming some of the sharp losses it suffered late last week.