Netflix’s sizzling stock, which has gained a remarkable 65% in 2018 and more than doubled in the past year, finally pulled back 1% today after an analyst issued a downgrade.
Stifel analyst Scott Devitt lowered his rating on Netflix from buy to hold, and the streaming giant’s shares declined 1.25% to finish the session at $321.16, down about $4 from their 52-week high. The slide came on a mixed day for Wall Street. The Nasdaq and Russell 2000 both gained ground for the day, while the Dow 30 continued slumping on trade anxiety, shedding 82.76 points.
“We believe share price outperformance over the next several quarters may be more difficult to achieve given the recent run and increasing expectations,” Devitt wrote in a note to clients. “That said, Netflix has built a dominant streaming and content franchise and we continue to like the company’s long-term prospects.”
Some analysts have recently gone the other way on Netflix, which reported another quarter of stellar financial results in January. UBS and Macquarie on Monday each raised their price targets due to Netflix’s deepening well of originals and increased consumer adoption of 4K ultra-HD TV. International expansion is also cited by many analysts in the bull column.
Predicting the fortunes of Netflix has become a favorite guessing game in the media business. Founded 20 years ago as a DVD-by-mail outfit, the company kicked off the binge-watching era just five years ago with the release of House of Cards. Today, it is shelling out $8 billion a year on content and has wooed top showrunners like Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes, not to mention top filmmakers and movie stars, accumulating a market capitalization that is near the top levels in all of media.