Will the Netflix Stock Split Overcome Valuation With Earnings?

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is flying high in 2015, as shares have about doubled in the past six months alone. As a result of this growth, the company decided to split its stock effective in the coming week. At the same time, Netflix will be reporting earnings, which will most definitely affect how shares will move after the split.

In late June, the company announced that its board of directors had approved a seven-for-one stock split. This split will be effected in the form of a stock dividend of six additional shares of common stock for each outstanding share.

The stock dividend will be payable on July 14, for shareholders of record at the close of July 2. Shares will begin trading at a post-split price on July 15.

The company is scheduled to report its second-quarter earnings on June 15. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters call for $0.31 in earnings per share (EPS) on $1.65 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $1.15 in EPS on $1.34 billion in revenue.

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Previously, Oppenheimer reiterated an Outperform rating and increased its price target to $775 from $610. The brokerage firm bases this on its estimate that Netflix’s five oldest markets — the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Ireland — will end 2015 at an average broadband penetration rate of 30%. Oppenheimer’s revised model now estimates 2020 global subscribers at 239 million, or 32% penetration of broadband homes, consistent with 2015 rates in older markets.

Back in January, Netflix announced that its global expansion to 200 countries should be complete by the end of 2016. The company cited the general growth of the Internet, including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs, as the main driver of global expansion. Currently, Netflix is available in 61 countries, and it has announced plans to expand into an additional four, for a total of 65 countries by the end of 2015.

The stock continues to be a top media play on Wall Street. The consensus on Wall Street is that Netflix likely will continue to benefit from a materially stronger original content launch, which would bolster the already strong franchises like the hit political show “House of Cards.” With many consumers tired of rising cable and carrier content prices, the streaming leader may have a big 2015 in front of it.

A few other analysts weighed in on Netflix prior to the split as well:

  • Wedbush reiterated an Underperform rating.
  • Nomura has a Buy rating and raised the price target to $750 from $600.
  • Pacific Crest reiterated an Overweight rating.
  • Raymond James reiterated a Buy rating with a $730 price target.

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Shares of Netflix closed Thursday up 2.4%, at $670.09 in a 52-week trading range of $315.54 to $706.24. In early trading indications Friday, shares were up 1.7% at $681.25. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $638.57.