Netflix stock received a big upgrade today from analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who bumped their rating up two notches from Underperform to Buy. Shares of the company climbed as much as 3% during regular trading today as it continued the recent tear that has made it the S&P 500’s best-performing stock so far this year.
They set an ultra-bullish target price of $722 per share, which is one of the highest (if not actually the highest) we have seen on Netflix recently. The price target suggests an upside of 27% to the company’s current share price. BAML’s previous price target was $350 per share.
The BAML team also increased their earnings per share estimate for 2016 from $1.96 to $4.32 per share.
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Netflix builds strong content
Analyst Nat Schindler highlighted Netflix’s continual efforts to build a strong library of content, which he rates at a quality of Triple-A. He believes the video streaming service provider will continue to increase its saturation in the U.S. and that it will continue seeing strong subscriber growth internationally.
In fact, the BAML analyst expects Netflix to reach 50 million international subscribers within the next 2017 and 120 million international subscribers in the long term. He believes the company will be able to hold competitors at bay in international markets because of its strong original content. Further, the analyst thinks Wall Street is underappreciating the value of the company’s original content.
Currently Netflix’s service is available in over 50 countries. The company’s total addressable market is approximately 330 million household with broadband, not including the U.S. Over the next few years, Schindler sees the video streaming service’s total addressable market climbing as high as 480 million, not including China, as it finishes its international expansion.
Cramer surprised by Netflix upgrade
CNBC‘s Jim Cramer, host of Mad Money, was surprised at the massive upgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “If you want to eat crow, you might as well just eat a whole… the tree of crows that we saw in the movie The Birds,” he said.
He made his comments on Squawk on the Street this morning. He called the upgrade “an extraordinary reversal of how a guy feels about a stock.” Further, Cramer said he “would have called this ‘wrong.'”
He also pointed to the massive increase in Schindler’s 2016 earnings estimate for Netflix, which moved from $1.96 per share to a whopping $4.32 per share.
As of this writing, shares of Netflix were up 3.54% at $574.54 per share.