Netflix Plans $2 Billion Bond Offering To Fund New Content; Moody’s Outlook “Stable” As Profitability Nears – Update

Jaap Arriens/Associated Press

UPDATE with details from a Moody’s report. Netflix said it is planning to raise $2 billion from an offering of bonds (mostly in euros and U.S. dollars) to qualified institutional buyers.

The debt raised by the offering will be used for “general corporate purposes,” including content production, acquisition and development. The company said the interest rate and maturity of the bonds will be set at a later date.

Moody’s Investor’s Service assigned a Ba3 rating to the debt offering, a level considered to be junk. Nevertheless, in a report, the agency said its outlook for Netflix is “stable” due to its overall strategy. With 200 million global subscribers likely by 2021, the company “has the ability to reach cash flow break-even within five years,” the report said, with total margins in the 20% range.

“We believe the company’s strategy to procure its own content has positive long-term implications as it builds its owned library assets as compared to pure licensing of content,” Moody’s continued. The strategy “will provide scale benefits for the company and increasingly provides proprietary value to consumers, not to mention provide a valuable asset base for investors. With distribution reaching across the entire world, Netflix has the capability to create content at a fixed cost and scale it across a near global footprint.”

Investors did not seem terrible fazed by the latest debt maneuver. The company’s stock price, which has risen more than 60% in 2018 to date, was down a fraction at mid-day, to around $330.

Many Wall Street analysts continue to have high esteem for the company’s shares, especially after its latest earnings report last week. Many skeptics have questioned its approach of spending aggressively on a content war chest and booking sizable losses even as it gains more subscribers and solidifies its dominant position in the streaming universe.

The company’s annual spending on content has risen past $12 billion, dwarfing that of its competitors, and it put nearly 700 hours of original programming on its platform in the third quarter. That represented a 50% spike from the second quarter.

In a report ahead of the third-quarter earnings beat, Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge said the burst of new content should be considered a good thing. “Netflix’s investment in high quality episodic content across all genres and feature films likely ensures the top spot in the living room over time,” he wrote. He predicted the flood of new originals would propel the quarter, including high-profile titles like Bojack Horseman and Maniac.

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