It doesn't seem to matter that Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) shares hit a new high this week, or that skeptics wince about its current valuation. Analysts continue to cozy up to the digitally savvy flick-rental service. A pair of investment banks have just waxed favorably about Netflix, though the company's share price may not have such a rosy outlook.
Credit Suisse upgraded the stock this morning from "underperform" to "neutral," dramatically raising its price target to $140. Analyst John Blackledge's near-term mark was a mere $90 before today.
Over at Barclays Capital, analyst Douglas Anmuth reiterated his rating on the stock, but lifted his share-price target from $100 to $128.
Both analysts are impressed with Netflix's ability to rapidly grow its subscriber base -- 15 million and counting -- as it broadens the digital library that it makes available to members on unlimited DVD plans at no additional cost.
However, if you pull up a quote on Netflix, you'll realize that the stock has overrun the optimism at Credit Suisse and Barclays. The stock closed at $143.12 yesterday, making price targets of $140 and $128 problematic for bulls, however drool-worthy Netflix's business model may be.
Clearly, Netflix is the only entity making a splash in digital delivery. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) continue to stick to their piecemeal pricing. Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) seems to get it with its HBO Go, and Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA ) is on the right track with Xfinity, but those plans still require lofty cable bills to access their streaming content. Netflix remains the only game in town at an attractive price point.
Until or unless it's toppled, though, Netflix is it in this space. Valuation concerns may keep the upside in check after the stock's torrid run in recent months. Netflix shares trade for more than 50 times this year's projected earnings, and nearly 40 times next year's target.
That's not cheap -- but convenient quality entertainment rarely is.
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