Netflix Stock Pops to Record High on Bullish Analyst Forecast for International Profits

Shares of Netflix streamed to record-high territory Thursday after a Wall Street analyst issued a report arguing that investors are underestimating the company’s prospects for international profitability.

Netflix’s stock, which historically has been fairly volatile, climbed 3.5%, to $163.28 as of 12:30 p.m. ET after trading as high as $163.84 per share earlier. With the jump, Netflix has a market cap of more than $70 billion.

UPDATE: Netflix shares closed Thursday at $163.05, up 3.4% for the day, an all-time high closing price.

In a note to clients Thursday, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson raised his 12-month price target on Netflix shares 14.5%, from $166 to $190 per share. That’s because, according to Olson, consensus expectations for Netflix’s earnings per share are far too low for 2020 given his expectations for international operations to achieve penetration and margins comparable to its U.S. base.

“While Netflix currently has a limited content offering outside of the U.S. and has done less marketing in many of the recently entered countries, we believe that, by 2020, there is potential for market penetration higher than current estimates,” Olson wrote.

Netflix had 47.9 million international members at the end of the first quarter of 2017, more than doubling in two years. Given its current trajectory overseas, Olson opined, Wall Street’s $4.99 earnings per share consensus estimate for 2020 consensus for Netflix would be 100% too low.

During Q1 2017, Netflix’s international streaming contributed $43 million in operating profits. It was the first quarter of consolidated profit for the non-U.S. segment, as “more mature territories offset investments in newer markets,” Netflix said in its investor letter.

“Our forward guidance shows that we intend to continue to invest internationally, projecting a small loss for Q2,” the company added. Netflix forecast an operating loss of $28 million on $1.14 billion revenue for the overseas segment for the second quarter of 2017.

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