CFO says there is no must-have content

Netflix stock nosed higher Wednesday after a rocky start to the week as chief financial officer David Wells played down investor jitters over programming costs and told an investor conference that international reps “a massive market opportunity.”

The shares had climbed 0.54% in early trade after steep declines Monday and Tuesday on news the company could lose A&E programming (Daily Variety, Sept. 16), and some glum Wall Street research on rising content costs.

“There is no content we have to have, (and) there are a lot of content suppliers,” said Wells at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference in Gotham.

Investors worry content costs will go too high for Netflix to generate a decent return. But that won’t happen, Wells promised. “Content producers are in the business of making money. We’ve brought more value to the media owners (rather) than less value.”

He said that two to three years ago, cannibalization was a big worry, but that’s been largely put to rest. He also reassured the Street that international will become a cash cow once it breaks even, which can happen relatively quickly in markets like Latin America, where there’s less streaming competition.

“There’s lots of leverage in the earnings stream once you grow past that point,” he said.

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