Netflix stock continues to hover near its all-time highs, but bears aren’t ready to capitulate yet, while bulls continue to push the case for the years-long tear to continue. The streaming giant has received multiple price target increases for the success of The Crown just recently and for the success of some of its other original content as well.
Meanwhile, a third firm is analyzing the possibility of Walt Disney buying out Netflix—a rumor that just can’t seem to die.
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Bulls on Netflix stock: disruption coming
JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth said in a research note that Netflix stock is a good buy this year because the video streaming giant will outperform profit expectations. He also reiterated his Outperform rating on Netflix stock and added it to his firm’s U.S. analyst focus list.
The analyst believes the streaming giant will “significantly” disrupt the linear TV market as it continues to post strong subscriber numbers, differentiate its content and create an improved proposition for consumers. He also thinks that this year the company’s setup is for a “cleaner story,” as its pricing problems are now in the past. Last year the un-grandfathering of some users led to slower subscriber growth, but Anmuth apparently believes Netflix will now be able to move past this.
He sees 2017 as a year of increased average selling prices, resulting in revenue accretion, plus stronger content and improvements in profitability around the globe.
Bears warn about cash burn
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter is one of the most notable bears when it comes to Netflix stock, with his Underperform rating and $60 price target. He dislikes the company’s history of burning cash to acquire new content as it flounders to become profitable in overseas markets. Further, he notes that the company’s cash burn is accelerating, and he’s unsure that Netflix’s library justifies all that spending.
He’s also concerned about competition, because he believes Netflix stock prices only limited risk of competition from Amazon, which has been expanding overseas recently. The Wedbush analyst feels that if Netflix is going to compete with Amazon, it will have to either spend more, thus continuing the cash burn he’s worried about, or watch its international subscriber growth decelerate. He continues to expect the company to increase its spending, but he’s also looking for about a 2 million slowdown in international subscriber growth this year.
Bull on Walt Disney – Netflix deal: don’t do it
Credit Suisse Omar Sheikh is bullish on Netflix stock with an Outperform rating and $125 target price. In a research note dated Jan. 10, he outlined why it would be a bad idea for Walt Disney to buy out the video streaming giant. For example, he sees the pressure to make a strategic acquisition such as Netflix as moderating because trends in the industry are improving. Thus, the House of Mouse doesn’t necessarily need a distributor.
He also described the dilution to Disney’s earnings per share and free cash flow and returns at the current stock price as “prohibitive.” On the flip side, he looked at the AT&T – Time Warner merger, in addition to continued growth in streaming video on demand and renewals of the rights to air sports in 2021 and 2022. Based on these factors, he said there would be risk for Disney to maintain its current structure in the long term. As a result, he doesn’t expect the debate for a combination to disappear.
One thing he doesn’t mention is the exclusive deals Netflix already has in place with Walt Disney, one of which finally started in September after a four-year delay. So while a combination would reduce content costs because Disney could just distribute all its content through Netflix, the House of Mouse would probably not be able to continue its deals with the streaming giant’s competitors such as Hulu.