AP News

Ahead of the Bell: Netflix


NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Netflix are soaring in premarket trading Thursday as the Internet video service provider's fourth-quarter earnings surged six-fold to beat Wall Street's view and it added another 2.3 million U.S. subscribers.

Late Wednesday Netflix Inc. reported earnings of 79 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of 65 cents per share.

Tony Wible of Janney Capital Markets said in a client note that subscriber momentum is continuing into the first quarter even though the company faces a tough comparison from the upcoming Winter Olympics coverage. The analyst said that the company's DVD business lost fewer subscribers than expected and was more profitable quarter over quarter with a lower subscriber base. Netflix has increasingly shifted its efforts away from the DVD business in favor of the growing Internet video service.

Wible noted that while Netflix hasn't said that it will sell its DVD business, it is changing the DVD URL and branding on its mailers.

"This may signal that Netflix is ready to monetize this asset in an alternative way," he wrote.

Wible kept a "Buy" rating and $450 price target on Netflix.

Pacific Crest's Andy Hargreaves said that Netflix beat his fourth-quarter subscriber estimates for each segment and that its international profitability was better than expected.

"Netflix is dominating its category and appears well positioned to maintain its momentum for the foreseeable future," he wrote.

The analyst reaffirmed a "Sector Perform" rating.

Netflix's stock jumped $57.97, or 17.4 percent, to $391.70 in premarket trading about two hours before the market open.


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