Netflix is raising another ~$US1.08 billion in debt ($US1 billion euros), the company announced Monday.
This is par for the course for Netflix, which raised a similar $US1 billion in debt in October, primarily to fund its ongoing push into original shows.
“Netflix intends to use the net proceeds from this offering for general corporate purposes, which may
include content acquisitions, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions
and strategic transactions,” Netflix wrote in a statement Monday.
In short: Netflix could use the money for anything. But original content is the main driver, Netflix explained in its earnings letter to shareholders last week, as it tried to allay fears about it taking on too much debt.
“Our debt-to-total-cap ratio, at under 10%, is quite conservative compared to most of our media peers at 30%-70%, and conservative compared to efficient capital-structure theory,” Netflix wrote. “Thus we will continue to add long-term debt as needed to finance our expansion of original content, including in Q2’17.”
In the letter, Netflix also reiterated that it expects to have a negative free cash flow of $US2 billion in 2017, versus $US1.7 billion in 2016.
“The growth in our original content means we continue to plan to have around $US2B in negative FCF this year,” Netflix wrote. While Netflix is confident it will make that money back over the long run, investors should not expect negative free cash flow to stop any time soon, as the company wrote that it will “accompany our rapid growth for many years.” That makes debt a necessity.
Here’s how Netflix explained its spending strategy:
We have a large market opportunity ahead of us and we’re optimising long-term FCF by growing our original content aggressively. Negative near-term FCF is the result of the big increases in our original content, combined with small but growing operating margins.
Negative free cash flow has been the main source of concern for many Wall Street analysts who are otherwise bullish on the stock.
“It’s another quarter of the same old debate on Netflix stock,” Nomura-Instinet analyst DiClemente wrote last week. “Can [subscriber] growth outweigh [free cash flow] concerns?”
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