Media

Why So Many Analysts Are Upgrading Netflix After Earnings

Chris Lange

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) reported its fourth-quarter financial results after the markets closed on Wednesday and it wowed most investors with a record quarter. In this quarter in particular, the company had its largest subscriber growth yet. As a result analysts piled into the stock and practically all increased their price targets while a majority issued favorable ratings.

24/7 Wall St. has included some highlights from the earnings report as well as what analysts are saying after the fact.

The company posted $0.15 in earnings per share (EPS) and $2.48 billion in revenue, versus consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters that called for $0.14 in EPS and $2.47 billion in revenue. The same period from last year had $0.10 in EPS and $1.82 billion in revenue.

The company added 7.05 million net new members globally in the quarter, against the forecast of 5.20 million and last year’s fourth-quarter performance of 5.59 million. This was the largest quarter of net additions in the company’s history and was driven by strong acquisition trends in both U.S. and International segments. Domestically Netflix added 1.93 million members and international membership grew by 5.12 million. Over 47% of all subscribers are now located outside of the United States.

In terms of first-quarter guidance, Netflix expects to see 5.2 million in net additions with 1.5 million of these coming from the U.S. and the remainder coming from the international segment.

Separately, Netflix said that it expects $0.37 in EPS and $2.52 billion in revenue for the first quarter. The consensus estimates are calling for $0.18 in EPS and $2.6 billion in revenue.

Jefferies kicked off the analyst calls by reiterating an Underperform rating and raised its price target to $95 from $80. The firm said that Netflix reported better than expected subscriber growth, largely driven by higher growth in international markets, suggesting a longer tail than it had anticipated. While the international subscriber growth will drive the stock higher, Jefferies noted that cash burn remains above expectations, with fixed cost leverage elusive.

A few analysts weighed in on Netflix after the earnings report as well:

  • Stifel raised its price target to $155 from $150.
  • Raymond James raised its price target to $160 from $140.
  • FBR has a Market Perform rating and raised its price target to $144 from $100.
  • BMO has a Market Perform rating and raised its price target to $150 from $115.
  • Citigroup has a Neutral rating and raised its price target to $145 from $120.
  • SunTrust Robinson has a Hold rating and raised its price target to $145 from $115.
  • Wedbush reiterated an Underperform rating but raised its price target to $68 from $60.
  • Cantor Fitzgerald has an Overweight rating and raised its price target to $160 from $135.
  • Macquarie raised its rating to Neutral from Underperform.
  • Mizuho has a Buy rating and raised its price target to $160 from $152.
  • Oppenheimer reiterated an Outperform rating and raised its price target to $165 from $134.
  • Morgan Stanley has an Overweight rating with a $165 price target.
  • Pacific Crest has an Overweight rating and raised its price target to $170 from $135.

Shares of Netflix were last trading up about 4% at $138.94, with a consensus analyst price target of $127.38 and a 52-week trading range of $79.95 to $143.45. The consensus analyst price target does not include all of the upgrades that took place since the earnings report.