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Netflix shares jump as earnings, forecast spur analysts to raise targets

The stock gained 6.2% on the earnings report, outlook
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Analyst cited 'robust results across the board'

Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shares gained as analysts raised their stock-price targets after the video-streaming giant posted profit that exceeded estimates on higher subscriber additions. 

The stock increased 9.74% to US$337.77 in early afternoon New York trade. 

The company reported after the market close yesterday that first-quarter earnings rose to US$290mln, or US$0.64 a share, from US$178mln, or US$0.40 a share, a year earlier. That beat the estimate from Earnings Whisper of US$0.63 a share.

The earnings gain and growth in subscribers is spurring investors and analysts to remain positive on Netflix’s outlook. Total paying customers rose to 7.4 million in the quarter with the firm adding 1.96 million new users in the US and 5.46 million internationally. 

The company delivered “robust results across the board,” Jefferies analyst John Janedis wrote in a research note. He raised his price target for Netflix shares to US$312 from US$236 and is keeping a Hold rating on stock.

The company also said yesterday it projects 6.2 million additions in the current quarter, while analysts on average were estimating 5.6 million, according to FactSet.

Netflix posted “another impressive quarter,” JP Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth worte in a research note. He cited the company’s content strength as one reason for raising his share-price target to US$385 from US$328. He maintains his Overweight rating on the stock.

The company also provided a second-quarter earnings forecast that may lure more investors. It expects earnings per share of US$0.79 versus US$0.65 estimated by a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate.

The second-quarter outlook “is particularly impressive” given Netflix continues to invest in marketing and technology, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote in a research note. He raised his stock-target price to US$367 from US$360 and reiterated his Overweight rating.

Netflix has been focused on garnering more international customers as US subscriber growth slows amid competition from streaming services including Hulu and Alphabet Inc.'s (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube.

The California-based company has said its investment into original programming in recent years is paying off. Viewers were drawn in by new seasons of shows including The Crown and Stranger Things – with the latter cementing its place as a “global phenomenon” following the release of its second series.

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