Shares are up more than 30% in after-market trading following the company’s report of a Q4 profit — in contrast to the Street’s expectation for a loss. Netflix reported net income of $7.9M, down 77.6% vs the period last year, on revenues of $945.2M, +8%. Analysts expected revenues to come in lower at $934.1M. But the profit number was the big surprise: It amounts to 13 cents a share — a contrast to forecasts for a 13 cent loss. Investors also will be surprised by the subscription numbers. Netflix ended 2012 with 27.15M domestic streaming customers, an increase of 2.05M vs the previous quarter. That’s well ahead of company guidance, and analyst predictions for a 1.7M increase. International also was strong with 6.12M subscribers, +1.81M — beating the company’s most optimistic forecast for +1.44M. The good news extended to domestic DVD rentals. Netflix says 8.22M people subscribe, a loss of 380,000; the company had said it might lose at least 458,000. “The fact that our growth remains this strong despite intensifying competition, and our already substantial U.S. market penetration, underlines the large opportunity ahead,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells say in their quarterly note to shareholders.
The letter also says that execs have had “constructive conversations” with billionaire Carl Icahn, who recently bought 10% of the stock and urged Hastings to consider selling Netflix. But it adds that the company has “no further news about his intentions.” Hastings also says that February 1, when Netflix releases 13 episodes of its original series House Of Cards, will be “a deﬁning moment in the development of Internet TV.”