Will Netflix Continue to Silence Its Doubters With a Strong Earnings Report?
Netflix is likely to post another quarter of growing revenue. Will that be enough for the company to continue to silence its doubters?
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) will report earnings on October 19 after the market closes. The company is expected to deliver earnings per share (EPS) of $2.56 on revenue of approximately $7.5 billion.
Investors have become accustomed to Netflix delivering growth in quarterly revenue. By my count, this will make it about 28 consecutive quarters in which the streaming giant has accomplished that feat. Presuming Netflix hits the $7.5 billion revenue mark, they will be posting 19% growth between the first three quarters of FY 2021 and the first three quarters of the prior fiscal year. That’s in-line with the 20% year-over-year growth forecast by the company’s management.
But investors may be paying more attention to the earnings side of the equation. Based on the projected $2.56 EPS, Netflix would post 90% growth in EPS from the first three quarters of FY 2020. However, it’s a slight deceleration from the 122% growth the company posted in the same three quarters between 2019 and 2020.
Silencing the Doubters
NFLX stock is up about 20% for the year. However, those that have closely followed the stock know that the growth has come in the last two months. Prior to that the stock was trading flat to slightly negative for the year.
Certainly the debut of Squid Game had something to do with the recent growth. The show is estimated to add $900 million to the company’s value. However, it’s just one more example of how Netflix is silencing its doubters. And to be completely transparent at one time or another, I’ve been one of them.
Roughly the bearish arguments went like this.
- The debt that Netflix took on to be an original content provider would be unsustainable
- Netflix wouldn’t be able to maintain their subscribers in a post-pandemic world.
- There was concern about what losing the extremely popular The Office title would do to viewership.
Each of these is a valid concern. But by almost any metric, the company is proving its mettle. As Squid Game and now season 3 of You are showing, Netflix doesn’t have to deliver quantity, it just needs to concentrate on delivering binge-worthy shows. The company knows its audiences (and I put that in plural intentionally) and continues to deliver shows that appeal to them. The success of Squid Game isn’t about increasing the company’s subscriber base; it’s about reminding that base that they are getting content from Netflix they can’t get anywhere else.
To that end, Netflix is planning to release new seasons of some of its biggest hits in the fourth quarter which has typically been its strongest quarter in terms of revenue.
About that Debt
Netflix has significantly deleveraged in the past 18 months. And, in response to the question I raised in a prior article regarding the company’s debt, the streaming giant said on its last earnings call that it plans to keep its gross debt between approximately $10 billion and $15 billion even as its free cash flow (FCF) increases.
The way I read this, it’s a way of managing investors’ expectations and I can appreciate that. Management knows it’s still going to have to create content. Another reason why it wants to maintain its leverage in the capital markets is to take advantage of opportunities to invest in its business. And as the company’s recent partnership with Walmart (NYSE:WMT) shows, Netflix is actively considering how to develop additional revenue streams.
Is NFLX Stock a Buy After Earnings?
From a technical standpoint, NFLX stock is showing signs of being overvalued. And the stock has dropped after each of its last two earnings reports. That’s something to consider as the stock is near its 52-week high.
However, according to MarketBeat, analysts are bullish on Netflix with a price target of just over $645. However, in the last week several firms have boosted their price target for the stock which is always a bullish sign heading into earnings.
Netflix is a part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks some of the largest publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs.