Netflix is benefiting from Wall Street enthusiasm in the time of “quarantine and chill.”
Shares of the streaming leader rallied to approach their all-time high Tuesday, as investors have elevated expectations for how the COVID-19 pandemic has likely increased Netflix’s subscriber signups at the tail end of the first quarter.
Netflix’s stock closed Tuesday at $413.55 per share, up 4.2% for the day, giving it a market capitalization of over $181 billion. It’s the highest price for the company’s shares since July 2018; Netflix’s all-time high closing stock price was $418.97 per share, coming on July 9, 2018. Year to date in 2020, Netflix stock has increased nearly 28%
Netflix is scheduled to report Q1 2020 earnings next Tuesday, April 21, after market close. The company has forecast total paid net adds of 7.0 million worldwide — but many analysts expect Netflix to gain more than that with much of the U.S. and other countries under stay-at-home orders.
In a research note earlier this week, Evercore ISI analysts cited downloads of Netflix’s app rising 57% year-over-year in March 2020. “This data set alone suggests that Netflix is pacing towards about 8.5 million international paid net additions” for the first quarter, the analysts wrote.
Bank of America analysts on Monday raised their price target on Netflix’s stock, from $426 to $460 per share. “We see Netflix benefiting from a near-perfect [first half of 2020] setup with strong content, stay-at-home orders, suspended sports leagues and shuttered movie theaters seeing consumers globally turn to the streaming TV service,” the BofA analysts wrote. “We anticipate the step-up will result in a permanent increase in penetration for Netflix’s subscriber model,” with its relatively low price point “supporting healthy fundamentals performance in a recession, even after stay-home orders are lifted.”
Investors see Netflix as essentially virus-proof. And whereas many sectors of the economy have virtually shut down, the company actually stands to benefit from the current crisis. Other “stay-at-home” stocks have also climbed in the past month — Amazon’s shares closed at an all-time high Tuesday.
Streaming has boomed during the quarantine, with U.S. viewing of internet video on TVs more than doubling (up a whopping 109%) in March 2020, according to Nielsen data. And AT&T, for one, said it had seen record Netflix traffic over its network on March 20-21.