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Shares of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) hit an all-time intraday high yesterday, trading briefly above the $300 mark before surrendering to the market's bearish bent.
Investors can thank Goldman Sachs for the short-lived rally, as analyst Ingrid Chung reiterated her buy rating as she bumped her price target from $300 to $330.
Aiming higher isn't a surprise. Netflix's stock was less than 2% shy of $300 heading into this week, so it would make sense of Goldman Sachs to either downgrade the stock or raise its near-term price target.
However, the real surprise in Chung's move is that she is dramatically raising her earnings outlook. She now sees Netflix earning $6.96 a share next year and $9.65 a share come 2013. She was previously modeling a per-share profit of $6.87 for 2012 and $8.95 for the following year.
Even the rosier projections won't make Netflix seem cheap on paper. After all, good luck winning a value-minded debate by arguing that the video delivery service is now fetching just 30 times next next year's earnings.
Chung's bump is still higher because one expects Netflix's surprising global expansion to be a near-term killer on the bottom line.
If expanding into Canada will be a money-losing move until near the end of its first year there, how long will it take to turn a profit by expanding in 43 different countries through Latin America and the Caribbean later this year? The United Kingdom -- if not a larger chunk of Europe -- is likely on tap for early next year.
Chung is taking a bold move with her meatier bottom-line expectations, and she is actually quite bullish on the push into South America and neighboring island nations.
She points out that there isn't a lot of competition in an area that is more up to speed dot-com wise than you may think, with 37 million broadband households -- and growing.
There aren't too many pure dot-com content plays in Latin America outside of the fast-growing MercadoLibre (Nasdaq: MELI ) marketplace and the fledgling Quepasa (AMEX: QPSA ) social networking site. However, we know that the area doesn't have a problem embracing U.S. televised content. Satellite television giant DIRECTV (Nasdaq: DTV ) has more than 6.2 million cumulative subscribers, though it doesn't seem to have a Netflix-esque streaming play in the works.
Higher price targets and analysts scrambling to bump forecasts higher after market-thumping results have been common sighting at Netflix during its torrid run since proving its recession-resistant ways.
I guess we should all rent 300 to celebrate the event -- if it wasn't for the grim fate of those fierce gladiators.
When will Netflix hit $400? Will it hit $200 first? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.