Shares of online streaming maven Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) were up significantly today (about 7% as of the end of the trading day) as yesterday after the bell the company reported both better-than-expected earnings as well as a planned price increase that should help Netflix fight to maintain its lead against Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN ) .
Today's move still doesn't erase some of the recent losses that Netflix shares have suffered. Shares remain down roughly 10% over the last month and still sit below their all-time high of $454.88 from the beginning of March. However, with its shares still up well over 400% from early 2012 and considering the strength of yesterday's report, it's safe to say that times are good for Netflix and its shareholders.
Netflix by the numbers
In virtually every sense, the first quarter of 2014 was an unabashed success for Netflix.
Netflix's revenue growth remains robust, increasing 36.5% during the quarter, and the inherent operating leverage in Netflix's model translated to even better bottom-line results for it. All told, Netflix's net income ballooned from $3 million in last year's Q1 to $53 million in this year's Q1.
Subscriber growth also remains brisk on both the domestic and international fronts for Netflix. For the quarter, Netflix managed to add 2.25 million net subscribers to its U.S. streaming business, ending the period with a grand total of 35.7 million domestic streaming members. International members increased by 1.75 million, lifting Netflix's international subscriber base to 12.7 million.
Going forward, Netflix guided that it expects continued execution on both the domestic and international fronts, although some seasonality in the coming months could lead to slowing subscriber growth in the short-term. Nevertheless, the main theme remains unchanged: Netflix is clicking on all cylinders.
And in the same vein, Netflix also announced one major move that should help it stave off increased competition from other streaming services, like Amazon's Prime.
Netflix ups the ante against Amazon
Netflix also took some time to humble-brag its superiority to other TV-based networks and streaming competitors. Netflix specifically cited a Morgan Stanley research report ranking it as second behind HBO's original programming, with about 17% of respondents identifying Netflix as the best service for original content. For comparison's sake, Amazon didn't crack the top 6, even as Amazon notches original content wins of its own with series like Alpha House.
And apparently Netflix plans to continue to press its advantage over other streaming rivals like Amazon by increasing prices for new streaming subscribers by $1 to $2 depending on geographic region. This will help Netflix greenlight more original content, as well as acquire new, exclusive rights to other third-party content, both of which should help pull new streaming subscribers toward Netflix and away from Amazon Prime's admittedly compelling value proposition.
In fact, Netflix specifically noted that with streaming competitors following its lead in original content, plus the ramp-up from traditional networks in response, competition for the kind of quality creative talent required to bring flagship series to market has never been higher. Netflix hopes that this price increase will help keep it ahead of the pack.
Up, up, and away
Netflix said it believes it can reach an eventual subscriber base between 60 million and 90 million U.S. subscribers in the years ahead, so there's plenty of growth on the horizon for the streaming pioneer.
Netflix's shares are by no means cheap, as they currently trade at roughly 130 times its last 12 months' earnings. However, Netflix has continued to prove that it is indeed a truly special company with the rare mix of talent, vision, and execution required to dominate a market with its recent earnings release, and that's certainly worth investors' attention.
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