UPDATED: Netflix and Spotify shares popped Monday after Citi analysts upgraded both stocks to buy ratings, saying the market is undervaluing their longer-term upside.
Shares of both companies rose by double digits in trading Monday, with Netflix ending the day up 11.1% and Spotify up 13.5%.
In the previous 30 days, Netflix shares had slumped 32% and Spotify dropped 26% on investor concerns over slowing streaming subscriber growth. The selloff “suggests prevailing equity values don’t assume material sub growth or improving subscriber economics beyond 2023,” the Citi team led by Jason Bazinet wrote in a research note in upgrading the stocks from “neutral” to “buy.”
“While Netflix and Spotify may see more modest sub growth, we see other top-line vectors,” the analysts wrote. “For Netflix, we believe the firm has ample pricing power. For Spotify, we believe the firm can improve ad-supported monetization.”
Netflix shares plunged following its fourth-quarter 2021 earnings report, in which it forecast a much smaller-than-expected subscriber gain in the first quarter of 2022.
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Netflix’s stock rise Monday also comes after co-CEO Reed Hastings bought $20 million worth of the shares, disclosed after the market closed Friday. It was Hastings’ first open-market purchase of Netflix shares since the company’s 2002 IPO, in an evident show of confidence in the stock. He purchased 51,440 shares, representing about 1% of his total ownership in the streamer.
That came after hedge fund manager Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital bought $1 billion in Netflix stock last week, making the firm a top 20 investor in Netflix. Ackman, in a letter to Pershing shareholders, wrote that “we believed the opportunity to invest in Netflix at current prices oﬀered a more compelling risk/reward and likely greater, long-term proﬁts for the funds.”
Spotify, meanwhile, has been embroiled in a controversy over Joe Rogan’s podcast, which critics have accused of spreading misinformation about COVID. After Spotify removed music from Neil Young, who objected to the company’s distribution of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” shares of Spotify fell 6% from Jan. 26-28, wiping out more than $2 billion market value, whereas Netflix’s stock rose 4.9% over the same time period.
On Sunday, looking to calm the market’s concerns, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek addressed the situation, without identifying Rogan by name. Ek said Spotify will add warning labels to podcast episodes that include conversations about COVID-19; in addition, the company published its rules about what content is not allowed on Spotify.
Subsequently, Rogan shared an Instagram video in which he said he is “not trying to promote misinformation” and vowed to “try to balance things out” in the future. He apologized to Spotify, as well as to Young and Joni Mitchell (who also said she intended remove her music from Spotify over Rogan’s podcast).
“I think there’s a lot of people that have a distorted perception of what I do, maybe based on sound bites or based on headlines of articles that are disparaging,” Rogan said. Later in the video, he said, “I do think that’s important and do my best to make sure that I’ve researched these topics — the controversial ones in particular — and have all the pertinent facts at hand before I discuss them.”