Netflix was hammered by Evercore ISI analysts in a report on Monday, but Stifel analysts take the opposite view. While Evercore can be considered ultra-bearish on the video streaming service provider, Stifel analysts are ultra-bullish with a Buy rating and price target of $535 per share.
A buying opportunity for Netflix stock?
Stifel analysts Scott Devitt, John Egbert and Alex Chavdaroff point out that Netflix stock has pulled back by more than 10% over the last couple of weeks. The believe concerns about increasing competition are to blame and indeed this is the main focus of Evercore analysts’ argument in their most recent report.
The Stifel team, however, sees these concerns as being overblown. They believe Netflix’s domestic streaming business “is as strong as ever” and that it is still improving with every new deal it signs.
HBO not a threat to Netflix
HBO’s launch of its HBO Now video on demand service for $14.99 in the U.S. is seen as a major threat to Netflix. In the beginning, Apple is HBO’s exclusive distribution partner.
HBO is targeting cord cutters and younger customers who never plan to sign up for cable TV. Many of them are happy Netflix subscribers, and HBO’s service is priced 67% higher than Netflix’s subscription. The target customer tends to be very budget-conscious, so the higher price may be enough to keep them away from HBO and with Netflix.
Additionally, the Stifel analysts think HBO Now will be seen as more of an additional service instead of a replacement for Netflix.
Netflix continues to expand
In addition to the company’s domestic business, they believe the expansion into Spain—if the unofficial reports are true—could end up being a tailwind for the international business. They think that tailwind may not be factored into current consensus estimates.
Further tailwinds could be other international markets Netflix moves into. Management has said they’re on track to complete their international expansion over the next couple of years. The company expanded into Cuba last month and is expected to move into New Zealand and Australia next week. Then in the fall, Netflix is expected to move into Japan.
The Stifel team doesn’t think Wall Street is fully appreciating Netflix’s international rollout and the accelerated pace the company is following.
Give Netflix credit for original content
They also expect the company’s original shows, including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodlines and Orange is the New Black will keep boosting the quality of its content both in the U.S. and internationally.
The Stifel team expects Netflix to hit 100 million global subscribers by 2017. They base that view on the fast pace of expansion and frequent announcements about new content.
As of this writing, shares of Netflix were up 0.05% at $424.80 per share.