Netflix Shares Spike to All-Time High on Brad Pitt Deal, International Rollout

Netflix shares hit an all-time high Tuesday — cresting $648 per share — as investors rallied on the company’s recent exclusive movie deal with Brad Pitt and its announced plans to expand into southern Europe.

So far in 2015, Netflix stock is up about 86%. The shareholder ebullience gives Netflix a market capitalization of nearly $40 billion, making it more valuable currently than Yahoo, Dish Network, T-Mobile, CBS or Twitter.

Netflix stock Tuesday was trading at $645.03 per share, up 2.8% from the opening price, in midday trading. [UPDATED, 5:30 ET: Netflix shares closed at $647.15 per share Tuesday, up 3.2% on the day and an all-time high closing price.]

Netflix’s stock price historically has been erratic, swinging from a 52-week low of $315.54 to its current heights.

Investors clearly are bullish on Netflix’s two-pronged strategy of acquiring top-flight content and expanding globally. On Monday, the company announced that it acquired distribution rights to Pitt’s “War Machine,” a satirical comedy directed by David Michôd (“Animal Kingdom”) based on Michael Hastings’ book “The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.” It’s Netflix’s the biggest film acquisition to date, following deals with Weinstein Co. for the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and a pact with Adam Sandler for four original movies.

Netflix’s recent TV acquisition announcements have included “Fuller House,” with a reprise of most of the cast of the classic  original sitcom, and “Degrassi: Next Class,” a continuation of the Canadian teen drama.

Meanwhile, Netflix has announced an aggressive plan to expand virtually worldwide by the end of 2016, to about 200 countries. Most recently, this week it pegged October launches for Italy, Spain and Portugal.

In 2015, Netflix will add about 1 million total subs with its expansion into Italy, Portugal and Spain, according to Cowen & Co. estimates. That’s only 7% penetration of total addressable broadband homes in those areas, the firm estimated — but it’s still sizeable. In Japan, Netflix this year will hit 2% penetration of total addressable broadband subs, with about 9.5 million customers in Japan by the end of 2020, according to Cowen analysts.

As of the end of March, Netflix had 62.3 million subscribers worldwide, including 20.9 million outside the U.S., after adding a record 4.9 million subs in Q1.


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