Shares of Disney rose 4.5% Friday, closing at a 38-day high of $106.63, as investors were encouraged by new federal guidelines setting a timetable for when large venues — including theaters and theme parks — could reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
That boosted Disney’s market capitalization to over $192 billion. And it ended Netflix’s brief two-day stint of being worth more than the media conglomerate. Shares of Netflix dropped 3.7% on Friday to $422.96 apiece after analysts suggested enthusiasm for the stock was excessive; that gave Netflix a current market cap of $185.6 billion. The decline reversed a four-day rally that kicked the streamer’s share price to record highs.
On Thursday, the White House released a three-phase plan setting benchmarks that states or regions would have to satisfy before they could start to ease social-distancing measures. After a 14-day period of declines in COVID-19 cases, states could move to reopen large venues including movie theaters and sit-down restaurants “under strict physical distancing protocols.”
It could still be months before Disney — which has delayed virtually its entire movie slate and indefinitely shut down theme parks — sees financial benefits after the “reopening” of American public spaces. In a note Friday, BMO Capital analyst Dan Salmon said he doesn’t expect Disney’s theme parks to begin reopening before July 1.
Meanwhile, the pullback on Netflix’s shares came after Benchmark Co. senior equity analyst Matthew Harrigan initiated coverage of the stock Friday with a “sell” rating, citing its current valuation as well as risks like looming competition from WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming services.
“Even heading into likely strong Q1 results, with informal expectations as high as 10 million global member additions from aberrant shelter-in-place mandates, we believe that Netflix’s stock price fully recognizes its global streaming leadership and the pop-culture appeal of transient hits like ‘Tiger King,'” Harrigan wrote in a research note.
In the same vein, Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter wrote in a research note Friday that Netflix’s gains related to COVID-19 “appear more than priced in” at current share prices. The analyst, who rates the stock “underperform,” projects global net paid ads of 7.0 million (in line with Netflix’s pre-coronavirus guidance) for the first quarter of 2020.
“The timing of COVID-19-related usage and signups late in the quarter, combined with an existing high degree of penetration for Netflix’s domestic addressable market, suggests relatively tempered upside in our view,” Pachter wrote.
Netflix is scheduled to report Q1 results next Tuesday (April 21) after market close, while Disney reports earnings for the quarter on May 5 after the bell.