Reed Hastings Netflix Price Hike
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Happy new year, Netflix: Shares closed at an all-time high of $133.70 on Friday, up 3.5%, after Wall Street analysts issued upbeat forecasts for the company’s year-end 2016 quarter.

Netflix shares, which have a history of being relatively volatile, have been climbing fairly consistently since the stock was hammered last April after a weaker-than-expected subscriber forecast. (It’s an all-time-high share price adjusted for Netflix’s seven-for-one stock split in 2015.)

The stock’s jump comes after Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft raised his rating from “Sell” to “Hold” in a research note Thursday, saying he expects Netflix to beat guidance for international subscriber additions. Netflix is still overvalued, according to Kraft, but he noted that the “key driver of the stock price around earnings reports has predominantly been subscribers.” He expects Netflix to add 4.35 million international subs, compared with the company’s forecast of 3.35 million, with particular strength in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

“Our checks… indicate broad based strength in international demand catalyzed by original content,” Kraft wrote, calling out Golden Globe-winner “The Crown,” “Marvel’s Luke Cage,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Fuller House.”

Earlier this week, Cowen & Co. analyst John Blackledge raised 2017 subscriber-addition estimates for both the U.S. and overseas. In the U.S., the analyst now expects 4.5 million net streaming sub adds (compared with 3.97 million previously) based on lower expected churn. Internationally, Blackledge now expects 12 million net sub adds (up from 11.3 million) “largely due to recalibrating our detailed international model analysis.”

“Netflix navigated its way through the ’16 pricing increases relatively unscathed,” he wrote, which yielded higher revenue per subscriber in many markets.

Meanwhile, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney expects Netflix fourth-quarter 2016 results to be in line with consensus estimates, forecasting revenue of $2.47 billion and earnings per share of 13 cents. Netflix “has been the biggest (internet industry) stock outperformer over the last quarter, which we interpret as implying high expectations” for the first quarter of 2017, Mahaney wrote in a note published Thursday.

In the U.S., 54% of consumers now use Netflix to watch movies and TV shows, versus YouTube at 50% and Amazon at 29%, per RBC’s quarterly survey of about 1,000 American consumers. The survey also found high adoption among millennials: 67% of those aged 18–29 currently subscribe to Netflix, compared with 43% of 30 and older. According to RBC’s survey of 3,000 users in France and Germany, penetration in those countries is rising steadily: 18% of users in France and 17% in Germany now use Netflix, up from 5% and 4%, respectively, in December 2014. The survey also found an increase in the willingness to pay for streaming content among French and German consumers.

Netflix is scheduled to report Q4 2016 earnings next Wednesday, Jan. 18, after market close.

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