Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Down 19 Percent Since All-Time High

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As of this writing, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) managed to just barely sneak back into the positive side, but this morning, it was a different story. As CNBC’s Giovanny Moreano noted on his Twitter feed, shares of the video streaming company’s stock declined 15 of the last 16 trading sessions. Over that period of time, the stock has fallen 19% from its all-time high of $458, which it hit on March 6.

What’s happening with Netflix right now?

This week Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been affected by outside factors involving the greater market. These factors have also affected other high momentum stocks, including Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and others, and it comes as no surprise. After all, momentum stocks are typically the first to be hurt when Wall Street gets scared about something like the Ukraine crisis, which was responsible for the sell-off this week.

But what about the previous two weeks? Why has Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) fallen? As of today, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has officially become oversold, according to Zacks. The firm states that Netflix’s RSI value hit 23.6 today. Of course this is a matter that’s certainly up for debate, as many investors have simply thought the stock had just gone too high, too fast and that a correction was in order.

Pointing out one deceiving metric

Take, for example, this article from The Motley Fool. Although the author doesn’t really take sides, he notes that Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)’s EBITDA margin looks so much better than that of other major technology companies. Netflix’s margin is 55.89%, while Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s EBITDA margin is 30.87% and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s margin is 39.27%. But looks can be deceiving.

Some analysts have been harping about the high costs of content acquisition for quite some time. Because of how much acquiring content has cost Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), its EBITDA margin looks deceptively high. After all, those costs are not included in this particular margin. In reality though, Netflix’s free cash flow is negative, and its net profits are pretty thin.

How Netflix does it

So how does Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) get away with this? It’s actually pretty simple. The cost of content acquisition is actually done by amortizing it as a cash flow item. The taxable impact of those acquisition costs are basically spread over several years—the length of the content license.

In 2011, only $800,000 of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)’s content costs were classified under amortization. Then in 2012, it rose to $1.7 billion, and in 2013, it climbed to $2.2 billion.

But Netflix could be bought on the pullback

Nonetheless, since Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has entered into oversold territory by some metrics, this could present a buying opportunity for some investors. Experts have debated whether it’s worth buying Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and other momentum stocks on this week’s pullback, and the same debate pretty much covers Netflix. After all, the company has a clear vision for international expansion and has shown healthy growth. Its strategy could pay some heft dividends over the long term, although profits will be held back in the near term because of those expansion efforts.

Motley Fool contributor Anders Bylund also notes that Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) itself appears to understand the deceptive nature of its EBITDA margin. This certainly indicates that the company isn’t using it to make itself seem healthier than it is. After all, the company hasn’t even mentioned that margin in a Securities and Exchange filing since 2002 or in earnings calls since 2006. But he says that investors interested in Netflix shouldn’t buy it because of the EBITDA margin, but rather, for one of the many other reasons it looks like it might be a good investment.

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