Netflix shares were trading close to an all all-time high on Monday following an upgrade from two Wall Street analysts. The stock, which has an all-time high of $129.29, closed at around $123 on Monday.
Bullish on international expansion
David Miller from Topeka Capital Markets maintained his Buy rating on the streaming firm, and raised his price target from $126 to $161. Separately, Stifel analyst Scott Devitt reiterated a Buy rating on the stock, and raised the price target from $128 to $143.
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Miller is bullish on international subscriber growth, and has raised his estimates for 2015 and 2016. The estimates from Miller include the September launch of the service in Japan, and Spain, Italy and Portugal in the last quarter. The analyst now expects the U.S. firm to end 2016 with 38.06 million international subscribers versus his prior forecast of 36 million. At the end of the June quarter, the streaming firm had 42.3 million U.S. subscribers and 23.3 million international subscribers.
For investors, Netflix is more than just subscriber gains, the analyst said, adding its subscriber retention is very impressive. In a note on Monday, Miller said, “stickiness” of the platform, which is mainly due to its recommendation feature, “continues to be the special sauce of the story.”
Miller noted that its pricing strategy is also working quite well. The service costs just $7.99 a month for a “smorgasbord of content across film and TV,” Miller said. The streaming firm competes with many cable video-on-demand services that offer movies for $3.99 to $5.99 each, and with Redbox-owned Outerwall, which rents movie DVDs for $1.99 a night, but whose selection is quite limited.
Netflix funding expansion from U.S. profits
In a report on Sunday, Stifel’s Devitt noted that the company’s international growth has been responsible for much the increase lately, but “its enduring domestic growth is arguably as impressive.” Netflix is funding its global roll-out from the profitable U.S. streaming business, and its recent strong performance at home has encouraged management to push its international expansion, the analyst said. The streaming firm expects to conclude its international expansion by next year.
“Netflix is becoming synonymous with digital video streaming, much like Amazon is to retail and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is to search,” Devitt said. The Stifel analyst expects Netflix to hit 80 million U.S. subscribers by 2024.