Has One of the Biggest Bears Finally Come Around on Netflix?

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Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) hit new all-time highs this past week after more analysts raised their price targets for the online streaming firm. What stood out from the price hikes as usual was one of the more bearish analysts almost completely changed its position on the stock. 24/7 Wall St. has taken a look at this former bear’s report and what other analysts have said recently.

Jefferies was formerly the biggest bear on Wall Street, but the firm upgraded Netflix to a Hold rating from Underperform and raised its price target incredibly to $135 from a previous $95. Admittedly, part of the firm’s negative thesis on Netflix had been that competition from local players and a consistent global price point would translate to a flatter trajectory of sub-growth and higher churn than expected. Based on its survey and recent results, this bearish outlook was found to be too negative.

In a survey targeting consumers in Germany and India to evaluate Netflix’s opportunity in these two key markets, Jefferies concluded that the growth opportunity appears larger than it had expected. This has been the result of original content performing well, mobile consumption growing, limited competition and a pricing plan that is gaining traction.

Results from the study suggest that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (PV) could be gaining share from local platforms. Among Indian video streaming respondents, 74%/63% subscribe to PV/Netflix, while 41% subscribe to both (10% subscribe to local or other platforms). In Germany, 67%/45% subscribe to PV/Netflix, and 21% subscribe to both (14% subscribe to local or other platforms).

In the mobile consumption segment, 84%/50% of Indian/German respondents consume video through mobile. Also 54% of Indian respondents use the download functionality often, versus 23% in Germany. As mobile viewing grows, Jefferies believes that Netflix’s investment in video delivery and optimization could be particularly important. Only 6% of Netflix respondents in India would not accept a price increase, compared to 32% in Germany.

Jefferies commented in the report:

Both groups identified originals as the type of content that they watch the most on NFLX (58% in India, 66% in Germany), closely followed by licensed TV content and movies. As NFLX offers a limited amount of local content (for now – relative to local platforms) the outperformance of originals across multiple regions has been a key growth driver (i.e. The Crown, Narcos, Luke Cage, 3%, etc.).

A few other analysts weighed in as well:

  • Bernstein has an Outperform rating with a $178 price target.
  • MKM Partners reiterated a Buy rating with a $175 price target.
  • JPMorgan reiterated a Buy rating with a $75 price target.

Shares of Netflix closed Friday at $145.11, with a consensus analyst price target of $150.34 and a 52-week trading range of $84.50 to $145.95.