Lately, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been pulling out lots of stops to find success and fend off the competition. But one analyst says not so fast.
On Wednesday, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities appeared on CNBC and expressed concerns about Netflix’s fundamentals. He believes investors should stay away from the company and as the company currently has a “Sell” rating with a $55 price target.
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A self-professed cynic, Pachter said on CNBC, “This is a worse company today than it was a couple of years ago. They have destroyed their DVD business, which is the source of three-quarters of their operating profit. They are chasing windmills overseas, and the content owners are never going to let them make money there.”
But there’s more. He said that Netflix “did something very clever in the fourth quarter” by reducing spending.
Pachter said, “That lower spending was lower tech spending, lower marketing spending. I don’t get how investors think that one-time tweaking of their spending is worth $5 billion. Nothing changed. I mean, all they did was become profitable. People thought they were going to lose a little bit of money, like $10 million. They made $13 (million). Who cares? I don’t get it.”
Pachter noted that Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) had a “very good” subscriber growth in the United States; however investors were overstating what that meant for the bottom line.
“They’re valued like they’re going to make $30 per domestic sub, and they make about $2.50, so they have a long way to go before you can justify this valuation. I don’t see it going higher.”
But the curmudgeon did have a positive in the conversation by noting in the United States, Netflix had “very good” subscriber growth but investors had overstating hat this means for its bottom line.
While Pachter painted a bear view, earlier in the week, RBC Capital Markets analysts gave Netflix an “Outperform” rating with a $210 price target.
Quite a departure from Pachter.
Giving the bears and bulls equal time, RBC analyst Mark Mahaney of RBC Capital Markets also appeared on CNBC this week.
He sees Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares moving higher and attributed it to a few catalysts.
Mahaney said via CNBC, “I think they’ve reached either a flywheel’s moment or a critical mass moment. hey are proving scale, growth and profitability. We think this sub-base can continue to rise.”
He also addressed the bear momentum for the stock (see above) with, “There are some very thoughtful bear arguments on this stock” and noted that Netflix’s management team has done “an outstanding job” when looking at a 10-year time frame but not so much in recent years.
Looking at his $210 price target, consumer behavior needs to be part of the equation.
According to Mahaney, “The long-term thesis is that this could be an internet video utility. There’s two great secular drivers behind the Netflix story today that’s relatively new – the surge in internet-connected devices, tablets, smartphones, etc., and then rise in video viewing online.
“That’s where people are switching their entertainment habits, away from the TV screen and toward these devices. Netflix is a great play off that. If that continues to play up, there’s upside to that $210.”
On Thursday, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is down 2.5 percent, trading at $178.35. Year-to-date, it is up 92.66 percent.