During the trading session, it set a new 52-week high of $338.62. A year ago at this time, it was trading at around $140.
Subscriber growth has sparked the investor frenzy, with the global total cracking 125 million in the first quarter, up more than 7.4 million in the first quarter. While many questions remain about the sustainability of the Netflix model, especially given their willingness to spend $10 billion or more a year on content and marketing, there is still room in the global marketplace.
One estimate included today in a report from Guggenheim analyst Michael Morris noted that household penetration of the streaming service in the U.S. is about 45%. Internationally, that number is a mere 5%.
In terms of market capitalization (a rough measure of a company’s size, calculated by share price multiplied by the number of shares outstanding), Netflix is nearly larger than any of its traditional media rivals.
Netflix’s market cap is $145.8 billion, close behind Comcast’s at $154.5 billion and Disney’s at $153.6 billion as of today’s close. Only mobile giants AT&T and Verizon, or tech powers like Apple, Amazon and Google, are larger than that, but media is a small slice of their empires.
“We’re much more of a media company,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings emphasized yesterday, “than pure tech.”
Of course, not everyone is celebrating the latest Netflix record. Legacy media players are experiencing a mix of anxiety and skepticism as they watch the speed and force of the surge, which began in earnest barely five years ago, with the debut of House of Cards.
As Barton Crockett, an analyst at B. Riley FBR, wrote in a research note this morning, “We don’t see how one can escape seeing Netflix’s surprisingly durable growth as cautionary for the traditional TV ecosystem.”
At least one prominent tech analyst, Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities, warns Wall Street is overvaluing Netflix.
“We aren’t yet ready to drink the Netflix Kool-Aid,” Pachter wrote. “We think the company provides an excellent service with phenomenal customer satisfaction at a compelling price. In order to
generate profits at a level suggested by its share price, Netflix will have to grow dramatically and
raise prices significantly. Until we see evidence that it can successfully deliver positive free cash
flow, we advise investors to seek more compelling investment opportunities.”
All of the major stock indices finished in positive territory today, boosting most share prices across the board. The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the day up almost 2%. Roku, up 9%, and Twitter, up more than 11%, were two of the notable tech gainers.