Netflix stock has surged to new record levels today, rising 1.5% to $349.90 in mid-day trading. That gives Netflix a market capitalization of $152.6 billion, the largest among all pure media companies, eclipsing Disney.
It is quite a moment for the 21-year-old tech company, which started out mailing DVDs and streamed its first original show in 2012.
A day after Comcast said it was preparing to challenge Disney’s pending deal to acquire most of 21st Century Fox, Disney’s stock price has slipped again. It is off 1% to $101.85 thus far today, giving the company a market value of $151.8 billion. Earlier this week, Netflix also surpassed Comcast in terms of market cap.
Tech giants who also have large media units — among them Alphabet, Amazon and Apple — have market caps several times that of Netflix. But given the company’s sole focus on entertainment offerings, the fact it has risen to the top of its peer group is a remarkable achievement — albeit one that will give many Hollywood execs further indigestion.
For 2018 to date, Netflix shares have risen an eye-popping 74%. In February 2013, as House of Cards was making its debut, dramatically altering the TV game with its binge-release model and data underpinnings, Netflix stock was selling for about $27 a share.
The company has lately delivered several consecutive quarters of dramatic growth in global subscribers (now past 125 million) and revenue (projected to be around $4 billion when second-quarter numbers are reported in July). Even so, many media vets continue to take a skeptical view of the company’s strategy of spending billions on content, triple or quadruple the levels of any traditional rivals. Wall Street’s take seems clear, however: Competitors can underestimate Netflix at their own peril.