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The Sirius Rollercoaster Ride

This story was written by Rory Maher.
We'd forgotten how addictive it can be to watch Sirius's stock gyrations. The satellite radio operator's share price dropped 20 percent this morning, even though there was no major news on the company todayand that's on top of an 85-percent swing in the stock price between the market's open on Monday and yesterday's close. Sirius (NSDQ: SIRI) shares have long been prone to erratic shifts; an average of 66 million shares trade every day vs. just 16 million for blue-chip Disney (NYSE: DIS). With the company mired in debt, the interest isn't coming from institutional investorsownership by institutional funds fell 7 percent during the fourth quarter, according to Thomson Financial. So who's buying SIRI these days? Likely daytraders. Below a recap of the big news about the company over the last month and the stock-market reaction to those developments:

February 5, 2009 - Reports that Echostar is buying Sirius debt in anticipation of a bankruptcy: shares fall about 25 percent in one day.
February 17, 2009 - Liberty strikes deal with Sirius to buy some of its debt: shares jump 60 percent on the day. 
March 11, 2009 - Sirius reports fourth-quarter 2008 results and though subscriber additions were down big investors must have been expecting much worse: the share price increased by about 20 percent that day.
March 16, 2009 - Fortune publishes an interview with CEO Mel Karmazin. Despite concerns by Sirius founder Martine Rothblatt that the company missed its window of opportunity, SIRI shares jump over 40 percent for the day. (Investors were clearly more focused on Karmazin's upbeat remarks then Rothblatt's more dour forecast.)

By Rory Maher