- Netflix reported mixed fourth-quarter 2019 earnings on Tuesday after the market closed.
- Shares of Netflix gained in premarket trading Wednesday but slipped as much as 3% later in the day.
- While Netflix beat estimates on revenue and subscriptions outside the US grew, competition from Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus lowered paid net subscribers in the US.
- Here’s what nine analysts had to say about Netflix after the earnings report.
- Watch Netflix trade live on Markets Insider.
- Read more on Business Insider.
Shares of the company gained slightly in premarket trading Wednesday, but gave up those gains and traded down as much as 3% later in the day.
The fourth-quarter earnings statement was important for Netflix as it showed how the streaming service held up to new competition from rivals Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus. Netflix’s Tuesday report showed that in the US, the competition took a bite out of subscribers – Netflix added just 420,000 paid net subscribers, falling below its estimate that it would add 600,000.
Competition for paid members will continue and even increase as the so-called streaming wars rage on. This year, Netflix will have more competition to fight for subscribers with – HBO Max, Peacock, and Quibi will all launch in the spring.
Still, a majority of Wall Street analysts are bullish on Netflix. The company added 8.3 million subscribers internationally in the fourth quarter, bringing its total paid net subscribers outside of the US to more than 100 million for the first time ever.
The company also brought in $US5.47 billion in revenue, up 31% from a year prior and beating Wall Street estimates. Adjusted earnings per share were $US1.30, ahead of Wall Street estimates of 53 cents per share and Netflix’s own estimate of 51 cents per share.
Wall Street analysts have a consensus price target of $US360.46 on Netflix, nearly 7% above where it traded at Tuesday’s close. In addition, analysts have 29 “buy” ratings, 10 “hold” ratings, and seven “sell” ratings on Netflix shares.
Here’s what nine analysts said about Netflix following its earnings report, ranked in ascending order of price target:
1. Wedbush: “Content spending to trigger substantial cash burn”
Price target: $US173 (from $US188)
“We expect content spending to trigger substantial cash burn for many years; in spite of four Netflix price increases in the last five years, cash burn continues to grow. Content migration to competing services and price hikes may slow subscriber growth and consistently negative FCF makes DCF valuation speculative,” Michael Pachter of Wedbush wrote in a Wednesday note.
He continued: “For the first time, management did not provide a break-out between expected international and domestic streaming paid memberships, and only provided a forecast for global streaming paid memberships. Management’s guidance for global streaming paid memberships of 174.09 million (up 7.00 million relative to Q4:19) compares to our prior estimate of 173.93 million (up 8.0 million relative to our prior Q4:19 estimate). Elevated churn levels are expected to continue in the U.S.”
“The pace of FCF improvement is slower than we had previously expected. Assuming continued improvement for the next 10 years, a DCF valuation yields a PT of $US173.”
2. UBS: “We expect many key debates to be volatile”
Price target: $US400 (from $US405)
“Looking ahead, we expect many key debates to be volatile and result in a volatile stock as qtrly performance is equated to longer term debate proof points,” Eric Sheridan of UBS wrote in a Wednesday note.
He continued: Examining the big picture, “we continue to see much unchanged in terms of NFLX’s long term secular growth platform narrative.”
UBS also reiterated its buy rating but lowered its price target.
3. Monness Crespi Hardt: “Netflix’s stock reflected peak fear levels in 2019”
Price target: $US400 (from $US350)
“We believe the upside in paid subscriber additions in the face of competitive services ramping will further bolster confidence in Netflix,” Brian White of Monness Crespi Hardt wrote in a Wednesday note.
He continued: “Netflix’s stock reflected peak fear levels in 2019 given the onslaught of competitors ramping; however, we expect remnants of this anxiety to linger a bit as more new platforms launch, and existing services expand geographies.”
The firm raised its price target based on an enterprise-value-to-revenue of just over 7x its calendar-year 2021 estimate. “Given Netflix’s leadership position in the market, growing scale, rapid growth and subscription-based model, we believe investors will continue to pay a premium for the stock,” White wrote.
4. Cowen: “We view mgmt.’s global guide as potentially conservative”
Price target: $US410 (from $US415)
“We view mgmt.’s global guide as potentially conservative given they are taking into account a full qtr. of Dis + even as the churn impact has waned somewhat per mgmt. commentary on the 3Q call. We also view the guide as solid given the ongoing NT churn impact of pricing increases in several markets,” John Blackledge of Cowen wrote in a note Wednesday.
He continued: “In terms of longer-term estimate changes, we raised our global sub trajectory but increased Int’l mix from ’19-’29 to account for 4Q19 results, and 1Q20/FY20 guide. We also introduced 2030 estimates, see note for sub and financial model changes. Our DCF- based Price Target goes to $US410 from $US415 prior. The long- term opportunity remains significant in our view, maintain Outperform.”
5. Canaccord Genuity: “Strong Q4 results”
Price target: $US415
“Netflix reported strong Q4 results, with global net subscriber additions beating guidance and estimates by ~1M, driven largely by growth in international markets. While US net adds came in lower than company guidance, domestic streaming revenue was in line,” Maria Ripps of Canaccord Genuity wrote in a note Wednesday.
She continued: “With key competitive launches in the US largely behind us, the company continues to execute on its core strategic priorities, which coupled with its massive investment in content, growing local language libraries, accelerating film strategy, and strong brand recognition should drive 20%+ consolidated revenue growth and operating leverage this year.”
6. Bernstein: “always something new to watch”
Price target: $US423
“International net paid ads accelerated in every region to a new Q4 all-time high, beat the guide, beat our estimate, beat consensus, grew +31% y/y, with an ARPU increase of +12% in local currency, driving revenue +40% y/y. Since International is where all the TAM and future growth lies, perhaps we should just end this report right here,” Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger wrote in a note Wednesday.
He continued: “Well, maybe with an additional footnote of FCF losses having peaked and on track for ~$US1 billion sequential improvement with line-of-sight to break-even.”
“Netflix US subs responded to the Disney+ launch by watching more Netflix. With very little new original Disney+ content over the next several qtrs, we think consumers will be reinforced in their appreciation of Netflix’s unique value proposition: ‘always something new to watch.'”
7. Bank of America: “Start of a new normal”
Price target: $US426
“We think Netflix’s 4Q results likely mark the start of a new normal where we expect to see an ongoing bear focus on Dis+/other competition in the US even as international growth marches on,” Nat Schindler wrote in a note Wednesday.
He continued: “We see Netflix’s int’l growth as insulated from competition, given the big investment in local-language content, Dis+’s staggered launch, lack of Dis-Hulu bundling, NFLX’s mobile-only plans, and lack of HBO Max/Peacock launch timeline.”
“Our expectation is for concerns to cool exiting ’20 as NFLX’s ongoing double digit growth in content spend increasingly differentiates it from competition both overseas and in the US. We reiterate our PO of $US426 based on our unchanged peak penetration valuation.”
8. Goldman Sachs: “NFLX will significantly outperform”
Price target: $US430 (from $US450)
“As the company approaches an inflection point in cash profitability, we continue to believe shares of NFLX will significantly outperform. We remain Buy rated (on CL) though we lower our 12-month price target to $US430 from $US450 to reflect our revised estimates for near term.”
9. Needham: “US sub miss is more troubling than first appears”
Price target: NA
“US Subs adds of 420,000 in 4Q19 were 30% below guidance of 600,000. NFLX stated that US churn remains elevated owing to: a) price increases in 2Q19; and b) churn in homes with kids,” Laura Martin wrote in a note Wednesday.
She continued: “We believe the 4Q19 US sub miss is more troubling than first appears owing to: a) in 4Q19, Netflix launched a record 802 hours of original programming (up 3% y/y), including 8 films with 24 Academy Award nominations such as ‘The Irishman’ and ‘Marriage Story;’ b) Disney+ and Apple+ were each free for the first 30 days, so NFLX only competed with them for consumer spending in December, at most; and c) marketing expenses hit 16% of revs in 4Q19 (vs 13% avg in 2019 and 11% in 3Q19).”
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