Upgrading Sirius XM Stock Is the Right Call

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Sirius XM Holdings (NASDAQ: SIRI) is hitting fresh 52-week lows, and at least one Wall Street pro sees this as a buying opportunity. Brian Russo at Credit Suisse feels that the time is right to step back in from the sidelines, upgraded the stock from neutral to outperform. His $7 price target suggests that there's 32% of upside from current levels.

Russo finds the satellite radio giant's operating trends and buyback initiatives encouraging. He also points out that the consensus estimates among his fellow analysts are in line with Sirius XM's own guidance, and that's a dinner bell for him since the media giant has historically put out conservative outlooks that it can beat with ease. All of this makes the risk-to-reward ratio compelling for a stock that hit its lowest mark since early 2018 last week. It's a contrarian call at this point, but probably a pretty good one.

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Credit Suisse's Russo becomes at least the third analyst to single out the falling share price as a reason to upgrade the stock following its poorly received first-quarter results in late April. Jeffrey Wlodarczak at Pivotal Research boosted his rating the day after the report, inspired by the initial success that Sirius XM was having integrating Pandora Media into its blood stream. JPMorgan's Sebastiano Petti followed with his bullish turn late last month, calling the stock's 12% post-earnings slide overdone given Sirius XM's solid fundamentals.

If the stock keeps falling, it's fair to say that Russo won't be the last Wall Street pro to attempt to catch a falling steak knife, but what if this is the bottom? The two earlier analysts may have been premature, but there's a lot to like about Sirius XM at current levels.

The consistently profitable satellite radio monopoly continues to gain subscribers. Growth is decelerating across most of Sirius XM's metrics, but at least we're talking about steps in the right direction. Sirius XM is finding a way to grow even in a climate with auto sales running sluggish. What happens when the cyclical automotive industry takes a positive turn?

The stock is now cheaper than you probably think. Sirius XM is trading at a reasonable 25 times this year's projected earnings and 21 times next year's target. Acquiring the deficit-saddled Pandora may be stinging bottom-line returns now, but that's not going to last. Along the way, Pandora will give Sirius XM a stronger footing in streaming, a market that's been tough for the sat-rad darling to crack on its own. Though Sirius XM may be valued at its lowest point in 17 months, it's a stronger and more valuable company than it was the last time it bounced back up off these levels.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Sirius XM Radio. The Motley Fool recommends Sirius XM Radio. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.