A hard-hitting report today from Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter seemed to reignite investor fears about Netflix ahead of Wednesday afternoon, when the home video company will release its 4Q results. The analyst, who has an “underperform” rating on the stock, says Netflix may tell the Street that its losses in the current quarter will come close to 62 cents a share as opposed to the consensus forecast of a 29 cent loss. The tip-off for him was Netflix’s decision in November to sell $400M worth of stock and notes that can be converted into stock. Pachter says Netflix had to “raise capital at less-than-optimal terms.” The reason: When the company radically revamped its prices in July, many customers who used to pay $9.99 a month to both stream video and borrow DVDs decided to pay $7.99 to do one or the other. But the streaming video licensing deals Netflix cut last year will mean that its costs will “continue to rise materially, further pressuring margin and profits.”
If Pachter is right, then it could cast a pall on what’s been an encouraging month. Netflix shares are up 35.6% so far in January as many investors started to believe that the worst is over for the company, which has lost 67.8% of its value since July. Some analysts are more upbeat than Pachter. This morning, Sterne Agee’s Arvind Bhatia, who rates Netflix as “neutral,” said that he believes the 4Q report could beat expectations. Still, he says the shares won’t grow significantly until Netflix CEO Reed Hastings provides more details about how the company will profit from its expansion overseas.