Sirius Satellite Radio, one of America's two digital pay-radio broadcasters, saw its shares soar Monday, following a statement it had passed its goal of signing one million subscribers before the end of 2004.

Underlining the perversity of the stock market, shares in Sirius' larger rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings fell after it reported meeting its year-end target of 3.1 million customers. Losing nineteen cents on the day's trading, XM shares closed at $39.73 (€29.16; £20.51).

Sirius' stock, opined John LaForge, a fund manager at FA Asset Management, "is way, way over its head." He added : "We've been caught up in the hype of the satellite business." He is betting (literally) that Sirius' price will fall.

The stock has pursued an upward trajectory, more than doubling since October 6 when Sirius announced the signing of shlock-jock Howard Stern to a five year contract.

Arguably of far greater pertinence to the company's future success, is its November coup in hiring former Viacom president Mel Karmazin as chief executive.

But according to LaForge, the satellite rivals have taken only one short step on a very long march. Together they "need forty to fifty million subscribers to make the model work". Monday's numbers "don't change the economics of the game," the haruspex believes.

Meantime, neither broadcaster has yet posted a quarterly profit.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff