Netflix Earnings Preview: Mixed Analyst Signals On Domestic Subscribers

Netflix Earnings Preview: Mixed Analyst Signals On Domestic Subscribers

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is scheduled to release its next earnings report on April 17 after closing bell, and analysts are expecting $2.64 billion in revenue and earnings of 37 cents per share. In the year-ago quarter, the streaming TV firm reported $1.96 billion in revenue and 6 cents per share in earnings. But will it boost Netflix stock?

Netflix’s results to be “at least in line”…

In his earnings preview note, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves said he expects Netflix to post first quarter earnings that were “at least in line with expectations.” He believes that domestic pricing and subscriber growth were solid during the first quarter and that international adoption is going at least as expected. Management guided for 5.2 million total global net new subscribers, and he expects at the company to report at least that many.

However, he warns that consensus estimates for the second quarter could be a bit high, so he advised that investors be cautious on the company’s guidance. Wall Street is currently expecting Netflix to add 2.1 million international net subscribers during the second quarter, which would be lower than the multi-year average for a second quarter but a little higher than last year. He feels that this creates some risk, but if a miss on subscriber guidance serves as a drag on Netflix stock, he would see it as a buying opportunity.

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He still recommends Netflix stock and maintains his Overweight rating and $170 price target going into the earnings report later this month.

… Or Netflix might miss

Baird analyst William Power has a much more bearish view of Netflix, as he warned in his preview report that the company might report weakness in the U.S., based on his quarterly U.S. subscriber survey. He said 51% of respondents said they subscribe to the streaming service, which is flat sequentially, although typically, the sequential increase from the fourth to the first quarter is in the double digits. As a result, he said this implies that the company’s subscriber adds for the U.S. are below guidance and consensus, although he notes that the survey only serves as a directional indicator.

He did lower his first quarter net subscriber add estimate from 1.5 million to 1 million, which is well below the consensus of 1.6 million and management’s guidance of 1.5 million domestic adds. He’s estimating 3.7 million international net adds.

Netflix stock – Does domestic matter?

Power questions whether it matters much if Netflix misses estimates for domestic subscribers because the focus has been on the company’s international business. He pointed out that if the company adds more international subscribers than the 3.7 million he is estimating, the Street might not be as worried about a miss on U.S. subscriber adds. On the other hand, he also notes that the Street is already expecting a beat on the international side.

The Baird analyst noted that Netflix released a lot more original content this year than it did last year, but he suggests that the lack of a “blockbuster hit” could have contributed to the domestic weakness observed in his survey this quarter.

Shares of NFLXD stock fell by as much as 0.42% to $143.16 during regular trading hours on Friday.

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