Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) has been and continues to be one of the more interesting and aggressive growth stories in media today. The company’s growth in the United States has been more than impressive, and Netflix is still effectively just at the early stages of its expansion abroad. Citigroup’s Mark May raised his rating on Netflix to Buy from Neutral at the end of this week, but what stood out was the significant upside potential that may be left for Netflix holders over the long term.
Citigroup’s official price target was raised to $525 from $409 on Friday’s upgrade. Still, the upside target from the prior $439.50 close of 19.5% was totally dwarfed by May’s longer-term upside. He said that Netflix shares could actually rise to $750 or more over the long term.
What investors need to consider about the most recent call from Citigroup is that Netflix is expected to report earnings in the week ahead, and that Netflix shares are incredibly volatile in and after earnings. Also, this analyst call from Citigroup was specifically not targeting the Netflix earnings report at all. May even said that beating or missing simply by 100,000 domestic subscribers can greatly send shares higher or lower.
Citigroup gave several views as to why it was so positive on Netflix. The firm showed that the higher competition risk may be overstated. Another issue is that the current multiple seem to be valued for North America only, signaling that investors are getting other international market opportunities for almost free.
Citi believes that Netflix shares could ultimately trade at higher valuations. On an additional note, May said that he believes that content launches will be stronger in 2015 and could offer a strong foundation for Netflix subscriber growth.
As far as that $750 mystical potential share price in the long term, May believes that the current 57 million or so streaming subscribers could turn into more than 130 million subscribers around the world by the year 2020.
A last point made in the call is that Netflix has been able to manage content costs, compared to other streaming players. As far as the disruption is concerned, Netflix is being touted as one of the drivers that is changing how consumers view their media.
Again, 24/7 Wall St. would encourage readers not to view this call as any barometer for the coming week’s earnings report from Netflix. This stock has broken many investors around earnings, and it has been very rewarding to some around earnings.
Netflix investors drove the shares higher on Friday’s call, and with the higher market prices in general, by 3.4% to $457.57. Its 52-week range is $299.50 to $489.29, and its consensus analyst price target is right around the current price at $455.67. The most bullish analyst price target is $600.
Lastly, investors should consider that Netflix has a market cap of $27.5 billion. A $500 share price would put Netflix’s market cap up at just over $30 billion, but that mythical $750 longer-term implied price would value Netflix at a whopping $45 billion.
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