While most analysts are bullish on Netflix, Greenlight Capital chief David Einhorn isn’t. He points out that Netflix shares have soared while earnings estimates have been declining. You may remember that Carl Icahn unloaded all of his shares of the video streaming giant earlier this year, turning a tidy profit in the process.
The stock dipped today, falling by as much as 1.63% to $116.10 per share.
Netflix shares run counter to earnings estimates
Business Insider‘s Linette Lopez reports that they asked Einhorn and other high-profile investors to share with them the most important lesson, idea or chart they had this year. She said he sent them the following chart, which plots Netflix’s share price with earnings estimates for the S&P 500:
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Einhorn also noted that earnings estimates for Netflix itself have declined throughout the year as analysts slashed their estimates around each earnings report. However, the company’s stock has been soaring all year, creating a huge disparity between earnings and share price performance.
Will Wall Street wake up?
As Lopez notes, the above chart also indicates that Wall Street in general is just disconnected from reality. Throughout this year, there have been reasons to worry about Netflix’s fundamentals, but investors have pushed the company’s stock higher and higher despite the potential warning signs. The firm’s shares have outperformed the S&P 500 by a huge margin and won it a position in the top four hot stocks of the year: Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (or FANG).
Lopez also noted that data from Bloomberg indicates that while analysts have been cutting their estimates for Netflix, they’ve been boosting their target prices. Further, Wall Street appears to be expecting a return to earnings growth in 2016, which further contradicts this year’s trend of downward revisions. The downward revision trend might continue into next year after the video streaming giant releases its next earnings report.
Bulls ride high on Netflix’s potential
On the other hand, bulls believe the future potential provides enough reason to stay in the stock because they believe the company’s international opportunities are huge. Needham analyst Laura Martin is one such bull, as she has a Buy rating and $125 price target on the stock. However, she is far less focused on the potential for international expansion than other analysts are.
She sees Netflix as being a huge beneficiary of the global movement to digital platforms and the global growth of broadband networks. Almost all of the video streaming giant’s revenue comes from digital platforms, and she noted that since it does not rely on advertising revenue, the growing threat of ad-blockers faced by other digital content providers will not affect it.
“We believe NFLX is at the forefront of many of the most innovative global trends occurring in media today,” the Needham team wrote. “We see NFLX as a way to play global growth of broadband penetrations, viewers moving to digital platforms, and viewers’ shift toward binge viewing.”