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Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) is a controversial stock these days. Some well-respected investors have shorted the stock, while others champion it. In Fooldom, Netflix is a long-standing and very profitable Stock Advisor pick -- and even a core stock according to that service. But it's also the subject of a bearish Motley Fool Alpha recommendation, which suggests that you should buy put options on the stock!
So let's settle the matter. I'm here to tell you why Netflix belongs in your portfolio, whille fellow Fool Matt Koppenheffer will argue the bearish case.
I believe in Netflix as a long-term investment. The stock may rise or fall like a high-octane roller coaster from one month to the next -- but the company has a much brighter future ahead of it than even its currently soaring valuation would imply.
For one thing, the entertainment industry is turning digital, and Netflix is leading the charge in the movie segment. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) already broke open the levees for the music industry, setting the stage for an iTunes-like upheaval of film distribution. Netflix is fulfilling that promise better than anyone else.
Sure, there's competition, both real and potential. Apple's iTunes video store looks like a rival, as does the Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Video on Demand service. But Netflix has carved out a very specific niche in all-you-can-eat movie subscriptions, with a 20 million-subscriber head start on Amazon's ambitious product. Years of brand-building and studio relations work give Netflix another leg up.
Then there's the service's integration with leading home theater systems. I dare you to find an Internet-capable Blu-ray player, gaming console, or other set-top box that doesn't feature Netflix streams these days. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) has similar coverage for its YouTube service, but that's a complementary product, rather than a competitor. Who else even comes close? Nobody.
In fact, Netflix has a downright ridiculous head start, including prominently placed Netflix buttons on remote controls nearly across the board. Buy a TV or Blu-ray player from Sony (NYSE: SNE ) , Samsung, or Panasonic (NYSE: PC ) , and the Netflix logo will stare you in the face every day. Convenience is king, and Netflix has made it easier than ever to stumble over its services.
That's the domestic lay of the land, but Netflix is also busy exporting its streaming model to other nations, starting with Canada. If recent job postings are any indication, the company wants to establish a very large international profile indeed, across Europe, South America, and even the Far East. And I don't think any of that has been priced into the stock yet.
Click here to see fellow Fool Matt Koppenheffer's bear case for Netflix, then come back tomorrow to see our rebuttals, where I'll give my two cents on Matt's bearish argument.