After burning nearly $1.5 billion in cash last year, Netflix says today that it’s headed back to the debt market for help to pay for its fast-growing content needs as it expands throughout the world.
The company says it will borrow €1 billion through senior debt notes it will sell outside of the U.S. Details about the interest rate and maturity date are yet to be determined.
The streaming power will use the cash “for general corporate purposes, which may include content acquisitions, capital expenditures, investments, working capital and potential acquisitions and strategic transactions.”
Executives told Wall Street last week that they expect to burn more than $2 billion in 2017. As a result, they said, “we will continue to add long-term debt as needed to finance our expansion of original content, including in Q2’17.”
They urged investors not to worry: “Our debt to total cap ratio, at under 10%, is quite conservative compared to most of our media peers at 30-70%, and conservative compared to efficient capital structure theory,” they said.
Netflix’s effort to keep prices, and profits, low while funding its growing content needs with debt worries Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter. He says he’s “skeptical that Netflix’s ‘originals’ strategy will achieve critical mass sufficient to drive meaningful profitability over the next several years.” Additionally, competition is beginning to intensify which may result in slowing subscriber growth later this year and throughout 2018.
Others are less concerned. Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says that “banks seem ready keep lending to Netflix despite its negative cash flow.”
But MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson notes that Netflix is hitting the market earlier than he expected, which led him to increase the amount of interest he expects it to pay in 2017.
Netflix paid $150.1 million in interest in 2016, up from $132.7 million in 2015. It had $3.36 billion in long term debt, up from $2.37 billion in 2015.
The company’s shares opened up about 1% this morning.