In a quarterly presentation ritual that has come to resemble the unveiling of a new Apple device in its blend of high-tech and get-rich anticipatory fever, Netflix will release its third-quarter earnings on Monday after the closing bell.
Wall Street will be watching, as always, for subscriber numbers. Last quarter’s numbers blew the roof off estimates and sent the company’s shares soaring. As of July, it reported 100 million global streaming subscribers and 51.9 million in the U.S. The consensus among analysts this time around is for Netflix to add 784,000 new U.S. streaming subscribers and 3.62 million internationally.
This quarterly report’s new wrinkle, which executives will get a chance to explain more fully, is their Oct. 5 decision to roll out price increases of $1 and $2, respectively, of the mid-tier and top-tier subscription plans. Mark S.F. Mahaney, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, is among the many Netflix bulls and believes that the price hikes are likely to improve earnings per share. “Based on our extensive survey work, we believe Netflix has pricing power and that this move is likely a long-term EPS booster,” he wrote in a research note today. Added Doug Mitchelson of UBS earlier this month, “We would expect management would be unlikely to implement such a price increase if U.S. subscriber trends were disappointing, bolstering our confidence further.”
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CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos will also face questions about their decision to continue stepping up spending on content. Subscription increases are expected to defray some, though far from all, of those new billions in expenses.
Investors have seldom lost faith in the company’s potential as the ultimate media disruptor. In the decade since the financial crisis began in the fall of 2007, Netflix has been far and away the top-performing stock in the market, gaining some 5,400%. In anticipation of the quarterly results, shares tacked on $3.49, or a bit less than 2%, on above-average volume, to approach the close of the trading day at $199.33.
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