Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock rocketed to a new high last night after the video streaming provider surprised Wall Street with fourth quarter subscriber numbers that were much better than even the company itself expected. The company has earned a rash of price target increases and at least one upgrade, although its biggest bear is still not convinced.
Netflix has a record quarter
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali reiterated his Overweight rating and raised his price target for Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock from $135 to $160 per share on the back of the company’s best quarter ever. The company posted $2.5 billion in revenue, GAAP earnings of 15 cents per share and EBITDA of $211.8 million. The Street had been expecting $2.5 billion in revenue, 13 cents per share in earnings, and $185.8 million in EBITDA.
Streaming subscriber adds came in at 7.05 million, for the biggest quarterly add number ever and beating consensus. The Street had been looking for 5.17 million, while management had guided for 5.2 million. Netflix added 1.93 million domestic subscribers, versus the guide of 1.45 million, and 5.1 million international subscribers, versus the outlook of 3.75 million. Squali looks for the company to near 100 million subscribers by the end of the first quarter after ending 2016 with about 93.8 million.
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Netflix’s subscriber guidance was also ahead of the Street at 5.2 million, versus the consensus of 4.4 million. Squali noted that the company is coming off a difficult comparison in the first quarter, which makes this even more surprising.
Another Netflix (NFLX) bear bites the dust but not all convinced
Of note, Macquarie analyst Tim Nollen upgraded Netflix stock from Underperform to Neutral after last night’s report. He also boosted his price target from $85 to $135 per share and said that although he’s still cautious on the company’s free cash flow burn amid rising competition, subscriber numbers drive its stock. As a result, some of his concerns were eased by the strong fourth quarter numbers.
However, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter maintained his Underperform rating on Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock, although he bumped up his price target from $60 to $68 per share. Interestingly, he said he has been “consistently wrong” about Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock, but he still thinks it is overvalued because cash flow does matter.
He believes he will probably be wrong “for a while longer” because the company now has a greater amount of quality content than ever before. However, he notes that competition for quality content is getting fiercer, so prices for it will continue to rise. Meanwhile, Netflix keeps burning cash to acquire more original and exclusive content, and he expects international profitability to remain “elusive” amid rising competition for content and subscribers.
Netflix’s (NFLX) international growth continuing
Despite Pachter’s continued argument that Netflix won’t be able to perform well internationally, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne noted in his report that momentum outside the U.S. is building amid broad-based strength. He believes Europe in particular is starting to like Netflix. He JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth noted that strong content travels.
Swinburne was encouraged to see that over time and with investments in content and “product iteration,” the company has been able to accelerate international adoption. He raised his price target for Netflix stock to $165 per share from $150.
Other price target increases for Netflix (NFLX) stock
The big story for Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock today was price target increases with a huge list. JPMorgan moved from $140 to $175, while Stifel bumped its target up to $155 from $150. Pacific Crest boosted from $135 to $170, and RBC Capital raised its target from $150 to $175. Pivotal Research raised its target for Netflix stock from $135 to $170, while Goldman Sachs bumped its target up to $155 from $140. Credit Suisse moved from $133 to $143, while Citigroup raised its target from $120 to $145.
Shares of Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) stock rose by as much as 4.64% to $139.39 during regular trading hours on Thursday.