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FTC Calls for Tougher Rules on Debt Collection Lawsuits

14 Jul 2010

A new Federal Trade Commission report concludes that the system for resolving consumer debt collection disputes is broken, and recommends significant litigation and arbitration reforms to improve efficiency and fairness to consumers.

Released Monday, the report,Repairing A Broken System: Protecting Consumers in Debt Collection Litigation and Arbitration,” reflects information gathered at roundtable discussions the FTC held throughout the country in 2009, as well as public comments and the FTC’s experience in debt collection matters.

The report found that debt collection litigation raised concerns about collectors failing to properly notify consumers of suits they have filed, collectors filing suits based on insufficient evidence of indebtedness, courts frequently granting default judgments against consumers who do not appear or defend themselves, collectors seeking to recover on debts beyond the statute of limitations, and banks freezing funds in bank accounts that are exempt from garnishment by law.

                                                                                               OR ARE DEBTOR'S PRISONS NEXT ?             

In its new report, the Commission’s principal recommendations to address these concerns in litigation are:                        

  • States should consider adopting measures to make it more likely that consumers will defend themselves in litigation, decreasing the prevalence of default judgments.
  • States should require collectors to include more information about the alleged debt in their complaints.
  • States should take steps to make it less likely that collectors will sue on debt on which the statute of limitations has run.
  • Federal and state laws should be changed to prevent the freezing of a specified amount in a bank account including funds exempt from garnishment.

The FTC’s new report also addresses concerns about procedural unfairness in arbitration proceedings. In its new report, the Commission’s principal recommendations regarding debt collection arbitration are:

  • Consumers should have a meaningful choice about arbitrating debt collection disputes.
  • Arbitration forums and arbitrators should eliminate bias and the appearance of bias.
  • Arbitration forums should conduct proceedings in a manner that makes it more likely that consumers will participate.
  • Arbitration forums should require that awards contain more information about how the case was decided and how the award amount was calculated.
  • Arbitration forums should make their process and results more transparent.

The FTC believes that reforms such as those discussed in the report should be made to ensure that the debt collection litigation and arbitration systems adequately protect consumers without unduly burdening the debt collection system, which helps to keep credit prices low and helps to ensure that consumer credit remains widely available.






Thursday, July 8, 2010 { Posts RSS } { Comments RSS }
Sirius XM News & Discussion

Sirius XM (SIRI): Miller Tabak Upgrades To BUY

Posted 07 Jul 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Demian Russian

Miller Tabak - Sirius XMOn the heels of Sirius XM’s (NASDAQ: SIRI) pre-released Q2 subscriber additions of 583,249 and raised subscriber guidance calling for 1.1 million net additions for full-year 2010, Miller Tabak media analyst David Joyce upgraded Sirius XM Radio this morning to BUY. Mr. Joyce previously had a NEUTRAL rating and a $1.25 price target on shares of SIRI. While Joyce maintained his $1.25 price target with the rating upgrade to BUY, he did initiate a new “long-term” price target of $1.45. “We are keeping our $1.25/share target but now viewing that as a short-term (1-year) target, and we are instituting a long-term $1.45 target based on our increased estimates and discounted cash flow valuations,” said Joyce. In a conversation with Mr. Joyce this morning, he said that he was impressed with Sirius XM’s pre-announced Q2 subscriber additions and raised guidance — that being the catalyst for his upgrade.

The automotive sales channel is the key way that SIRI is introduced to the consumer, so we pay attention to car sales as one of the drivers. We have had an annual auto sales figure in our SIRI model of 11.4 mm for several months now. The Street has been far above that, with estimates in the 11.7-12 mm range, but are coming down to the 11.2-11.5 mm level now, so we do not think the negative sentiment on auto sales estimates needs any adjustment in our SIRI model.

– David Joyce, Miller Tabak Media Analyst

Sirius XM’s pre-announced Q2 net subscriber additions of 583,249 far exceeded Joyce’s previous 166,000 estimate. Joyce has now raised his full-year 2010 net subscriber estimate to 1.184 million from his previous estimate of 767,000. In his report issued this morning, Joyce said that “the subscriber base is strengthening and that this is not necessarily just a short-term phenomenon.” Pointing to recovering OEM sales, Joyce also noted that other subscriber metrics were improving as well. He noted that Sirius XM’s reported Q2 churn of 1.8% beat his estimate for 2.0%. He noted that Q2 gross subscriber additions were up 46% while deactivations were down 8%. He also pointed out that the trial period conversion rate shows continued improvement. Read More

Sirius XM (SIRI) Adds Over 583K Subscribers In Second Quarter

Posted 07 Jul 2010 — by Dennis "Cos" Costa
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News
Mel Karmazin

Mel Karmazin, Sirius XM CEO

by Dennis “Cos” Costa

Company Increases 2010 Guidance to Approximately 1.1 Million Net Subscriber Additions

Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) today announced that it added 583,249 net subscribers during the second quarter of 2010, and raises full year guidance to ~1.1M net subscribers. This comes after the company already had adjusted its guidance on May 17, 2010 to full year net subscriber additions of over 750K, and FCF of over $100M. A year ago, the company was struggling as the automotive industry restructured and posted a net subscriber loss of (185K) in the same quarter.

The company also stated that they have added 754K net subscribers in the first half of 2010, compared to a loss of (590K) subscribers in the same period of 2009, representing a year-over-year increase of more than 1.1M net subscriber gains.

“Our subscriber results mark the best quarter of gross additions, deactivations and net additions since the merger of SIRIUS and XM in July 2008. The strong execution in both adding subscribers and retaining them resulted in our record-high 19.5 million subscriber milestone, despite continued economic uncertainty. The further improvement in our guidance reflects the attractiveness of satellite radio, but maintains a cautious outlook for continued improvement in the economy.”

Mel Karmazin, Chief Executive Officer of SIRIUS XM.

Read More

Sony Unveils New Sirius XM Ready Receivers

Posted 06 Jul 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Demian Russian

Sony (NYSE: SNE) unveiled three new Sirius XM (NASDAQ: SIRI) ready home AV receivers today. The STRDA4600ES and the STRDA3600ES ES Series Home Theater AV Receivers will be available in August, and the top of the line STR-DA5600ES will be available in September. All three receivers are both Sirius and XM ready. The new receivers feature the latest in home theater technology. All three models support multi-room playback, 3D-passthrough, Dolby TrueHD and dts HD Enhanced audio codecs, on-screen graphical user interface with overlay (main and second zones), and an integrated four port ethernet switch for the connection to other network devices.

The ethernet port offering allows for the connection to DLNA (Digital Life Network Alliance) sources, such as digital photos, music and video. The ethernet connection provides easy access to both Shoutcast Internet Radio and Rhapsody online services. The company also announced that users with an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone or iPod touch will be able to control the receivers using a free app. An Android app is said to be coming soon. Read More

Sirius XM (SIRI) & Auto Sales: By The Numbers

Posted 02 Jul 2010 — by Brian "Newman" Rayl
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Brian “Newman” Rayl

Satellite Radio Playground - June Auto Sales Bodes Well For Sirius  XM (SIRI)With Sirius XM’s (NASDAQ: SIRI) growth tied so closely to the OEM channel, it is prudent to dive into the June auto sales results that were released yesterday to see what they mean for Sirius XM. One of the biggest things to jump out at me when reading over the reports was the staggering increases in luxury brand vehicles which have higher penetration and conversion rates for Sirius XM. Out of all brands, Porsche was the biggest percentage gainer of them all, posting a staggering 137% rise in year-over-year sales for the month. Porsche was followed by Tata Motor’s (NYSE: TTM) Jaguar which posted a nearly 73% increase in sales and Land Rover which increased sales by 43%. Cadillac showed a 39% increase and Mercedes Benz showed a 25 percent increase. Non-luxury brands also showed heafty increases on a year-over-year basis with Dodge increasing sales by 66%, Buick growing by 52%, and GMC sales increasing by 45%. Clearly, the credit markets have improved and there is money out there being spent.

One of the stand-out trends in June sales was that sales of trucks and SUVs were stronger than overall vehicle sales, a bounce automakers attributed to stable gas prices. Ford’s (NYSE: F) F-Series pickup truck line — the automaker’s best-selling and most profitable products — gained 30 percent from a year earlier. Sales of the Chevy Silverado were up 25 percent, while sales of the GMC Sierra jumped 27 percent. Chrysler’s Ram truck line trailed its rivals with a 7 percent gain.

Sales figures were significantly better than the anemic levels that they were at in 2009. Overall, 984,063 light vehicles were sold in June of 2010, up 14.2% over the 861,506 that were sold in June of 2009. This equates to a SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate) of 11.08 million. When compared month-over-month, the numbers don’t look so great. May had a SAAR of 11.6 million, with 1,103,174 vehicles sold for the month.

When correlating OEM sales with Sirius XM’s growth, a simple side by side comparison demonstrates it best:

Auto Sales Gross Subscriber Additions
Q1 2009 2,195,334 -404,422
Q1 2010 2,542,313 171,411
Q2 2009 2,512,947 -185,999
Q2 2010 3,068,723 ???,???

Auto makers and analysts are cautious, however. Some think that the month-over-month decline in June auto sales may signal a slowdown in the automotive recovery. Earlier in the year, many analysts were projecting 2010 vehicle sales to come in around 12.5 million. Given the low numbers for June, some are revising that number. Edmunds estimates sales will total 11.5 million this year. “Even getting to 11.5 is going to be a struggle,” says Jessica Caldwell, Director of Pricing and Industry Analysis at Edmunds may reduce its forecast if sales do not improve in the coming months, she said. Read More

Ludwig Enterprises (LUDG) Plans To Compete With Sirius XM (SIRI) With New National Digital Radio Network

Posted 01 Jul 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Demian Russian

One RadioLudwig Enterprises, Inc. (OTC: LUDG.PK) plans to compete with Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) with a new national digital radio network. Ludwig says it’s ready to deploy this national digital radio network, in 50 of the largest U.S. markets, using an unused portion of the newly issued ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) digital television spectrum. This will be accomplished utilizing the ATSC standard for mobile DTV broadcasting, A-153. Ludwig says their service will be “all digital, all the time, in all locations, rivaling the quality existent on HD or satellite radio.” According to the company: “The patented technology is unique in that it utilizes a “carousel” that interleaves information streams in a repeating pattern for inclusion into a digital video broadcast (Digital TV / also known as HD TV). In the case of Ludwig’s data carousel its uniqueness is defined by multiple dynamic digital audio programs, not just one.”

Ludwig has also developed and patented a new hand held radio receiver called “The One”, which resembles the size and appearance of an Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone. The portable unit is designed for mobile or fixed base use and will be compatible with “off the shelf” docking stations for home and vehicle use. Besides its ability to receive digital audio, the 2-way communication device will also support video, text, signage, educational and social networking features. While Ludwig has not disclosed what the specific price of “The One” will be at launch, they did say that the price of the radio would be “modest” and will include a lifetime subscription to the service. According to the company: “The One” radio like Sirius XM is a subscription based service for legal reasons. A one-time subscription fee is charged upon activation and the radio is given as a gift. Unlike Sirius XM Ludwig does not charge a monthly fee.” Apparently, the company’s business model will be primarily advertiser supported, as there will be no monthly charge for the radio service.

The company calls “The One” radio “an advertiser’s dream come true.” The radio will also be equipped with a data transmitter and GPS module, which will allow for the daily reporting to Ludwig, in 15 minute sampling intervals, of the exact channels and advertisements listened to by each radio receiver. Ludwig says that within 72 hours of the time a commercial airs, the corresponding advertiser will know exactly how many users heard the advertisement as well as what specific demographic/statistical model those listeners fall into — including income level, age and family size. Utilizing the device’s GPS module, each individual radio will be “marked and overlaid with statistical information (on a block level) available from the U.S. Census Bureau.” According to the company, “The GPS will specifically be de-tuned sufficiently so as not to cause privacy issues.” Read More

Exclusive: Barrington’s Jim Goss To Weigh In On Sirius XM (SIRI) — Tonight @ 8:00PM ET

Posted 30 Jun 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Demian Russian

Jim Goss

Jim Goss

Barrington Research Associates Senior Research Analyst, Jim Goss will be discussing his thoughts on Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) in a live, exclusive interview with Playground Radio, tonight (Wednesday, June 30th) at 8:00PM Eastern. Mr. Goss will share his views on the current state of the company, as well as what he sees going out into the future. Jim Goss currently has an OUTPERFORM rating and a $1.25 price target on shares of Sirius XM.

James C. Goss
VP & Senior Research Analyst, Barrington Research Associates, Inc.

James C. Goss is a vice president and senior research analyst with Barrington Research Associates, Inc. and Barrington Asset Management, Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience in the investment industry, and for the past two decades has focused on media and entertainment industries.

Goss is a two-time winner of The Wall Street Journal’s “Best on the Street” analyst survey, once in Cable & Broadcasting and once in Entertainment. He is frequently quoted in national news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, USA TODAY, and others. He also appears on business broadcasts such as CNBC, Bloomberg and Chicago’s all news radio station, WBBM-AM.

Of all his accomplishments, Goss says he is most proud of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation he holds and his role as past president of the CFA Society of Chicago. The credential is an internationally recognized standard for evaluating the competence and integrity of investment professionals.

“CFA can be thought of as a measure of an investment professional, and involves intense testing over several years,” Goss said. He is still active in the CFA Institute and its local affiliate, the Chicago CFA Society, and also serves on its Leadership Council.

Read More

Sirius XM (SIRI) Officially Added To Russell 1000 & Midcap Indexes

Posted 29 Jun 2010 — by Dennis "Cos" Costa
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Dennis “Cos” Costa

Russell InvestmentsSirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) was included in the final list of companies added to the Russell 3000, as posted on their web site today. With this final posting of its reconstituted indexes, Russell Investments also gave more detail as to which funds Sirius XM would be included in. As published on their site, Russell Investments has included Sirius XM Radio in The Russell 1000, The Russell Midcap, The Russell 3000, and The Russell Global funds for the 2010 year.

While this inclusion did not come as a surprise, confirmation of the inclusion into the Russell indexes bodes well for the company’s future. The Russell indexes are reconstituted annually, and are “cloned” or replicated by many other investment vehicles, with total assets benchmarked to the Russell indexes estimated at more than $3.9 trillion. As is posted on the Russell Investment Site, the beginning of the process is stated:

“On the last trading day in May, Russell ranks the 4,000 largest U.S. stocks by market capitalization. After the initial list of 4,000 eligible participants is determined, the shares outstanding for each company are adjusted for corporate cross-ownership and large private holdings. Therefore, the Russell Indexes include only the investable portion of the universe—that segment in which investors can freely transact shares.”

Although many investors were expecting the company’s stock to spike in price as a result of the reconstitution event itself, others had a more tempered expectation. SIRI’s known liquidity, as defined by its large “float”, is available for trading on any given day. Combine this with a large retail investor base, that appears to be willing to take profit on any sudden move upwards, and a condition is created that brought plenty of supply for the demand presented during the reconstitution, resulting in the stock price spike never materializing. Read More

Sirius XM & Apple Time Shift With Pulsar 2.0

Posted 29 Jun 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

Pulsar 2.0

by Demian Russian

Sirius XM (NASDAQ: SIRI) subscribers and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) computer users are in for a real treat with the new release of Rouge Amoeba’s Pulsar 2.0 app. The original Pulsar app brought Apple and Sirius XM together to create magic. Apple computer users could finally stream Sirius XM’s Premium Online content the way it should be done. Pulsar did it right! For starters, a browser wasn’t required. The interface was clean, elegant and easy to use. A third-party app wasn’t required to make it work. Users only had to enter in their username and password once. Best of all, the music wouldn’t stop playing with annoying timeouts.

The new Pulsar 2.0 now brings amazing features to what was already an incredible app. Users can now pause, play, rewind and fast forward through their favorite Sirius XM content. Pulsar 2.0 even allows for skipping around on a song by song basis. If you hear your new favorite song, you can jump back in time and hear it over and over again. If you get a phone call, you can pause what you are listening to for up to 3 hours and come back to it exactly where you left off.

Pulsar 2.0 integrates easily with Rouge Amoeba’s Audio Hijack Pro app, so users can even record their favorite Sirius XM content for later listening through iTunes or for downloading to a portable device for on-the-go listening. With Rouge Amoeba’s Airfoil app, users can even stream Sirius XM around their home utilizing a WiFi network. Airfoil will stream Sirius XM content to iPhones, iPod Touches, Apple TV’s, Macs and PCs.

Pulsar 2.0 boasts some other welcome, new features as well. The interface has been updated with a new, sleek look. Favorite channels can now be sorted with drag and drop ease. The mini-mode has also been improved to allow quick access to user-defined favorite channels. Pulsar’s controls can now be accessed from the background via command-clicking, with basic AppleScript commands being supported. scrobbling is also supported. Read More

WorldSpace Satellite Radio Assets Purchased For $5.5 Million

Posted 28 Jun 2010 — by Demian Russian
Category Sirius XM (SIRI) News

by Demian Russian

Noah Samara

Noah Samara

There had been speculation that Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) and WorldSpace (OTC:WRSPQ.PK) might be brought together in some way. WorldSpace and XM were both based on the same technology. XM had a programming partnership with and a financial stake in WorldSpace earlier on. With Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LCAPA) injecting more that $21 million into WorldSpace, keeping the international satellite radio company afloat after their Chapter 11 filing in 2008, it appeared that Liberty Media was interested in acquiring the company. These hopes were crushed as Liberty, its debtor-in-possession lender, suddenly walked away from strategic transaction negotiations this past March (according to a March 16th WorldSpace press release).

Liberty Media, which holds a 40% stake in Sirius XM, was seen as the last hope for the company’s survival. WorldSpace was given until April 17th to submit a reorganization plan to emerge from Chapter 11. WorldSpace then announced a plan to decommission its satellites. The original October 2008 Chapter 11 petition listed total debt equaling $309 million and total assets equaling $307 million. The debt included $53.1 million in convertible debt and $36.1 million in senior secured notes. WorldSpace had two geostationary satellites and about 170,000 subscribers in 10 countries.

In early 2009, the founder and former CEO of WorldSpace, Noah Samara, through his Singapore-based firm, Yenura Pte. Ltd., had agreed to pay $28.8 million for the WorldSpace assets. The deal eventually went south when lenders pulled out and Mr. Samara’s company defaulted on the contract. After Liberty pulled out of negotiations with WorldSpace, Samara came back to the table a second time with his U.S based company, Yazmi USA LLC. This time Samara was successful. A deal was reached late last week for Yazmi to acquire “substantially all the assets of WorldSpace and its co-debtors” for $5.5 million, a fraction of the early 2009 $28.8 million deal. Read More

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