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Netflix Will Have a Lot to Prove on Monday

By Rick Munarriz – Jul 13, 2017 at 10:13AM

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The streaming darling reports second-quarter results on Monday afternoon, and it will have to earn its recent momentum.

It's show time for Netflix (NFLX 2.08%). The top dog in premium video streaming reports fresh financials after Monday's market close, and expectations are percolating. The stock hit all-time highs last month despite posting mixed first-quarter results two months earlier.

Netflix fell short of its own subscriber targets last time out, a feat that crushed the stock when the dot-com darling missed its forecasts during the second quarter of last year. Investors have proven more forgiving this time around, and that's the kind of momentum that can stall if fails to deliver in back-to-back quarters. A few analysts have put out bullish notes in the days leading up to next week's report, further heightening market expectations. 

A scene from "Sense 8"

Image source: Netflix.

What Netflix expects

Netflix is holding out for another period of healthy top-line growth. Its mid-April forecast called for $2.755 billion in revenue for the second quarter, 31% ahead of the prior year. A 34% projected spike in its streaming business will be more than enough to offset its perpetually fading DVD rentals. Netflix is eyeing a profit of $0.15 a share, up from the $0.09 a share it rang up during last year's second quarter. Analysts are perched just above Netflix's typically conservative guidance, holding out for earnings of $0.16 a share on $2.76 billion n revenue. 

The fast-growing digital entertainment service is expecting to close out the second quarter with 101.95 million subscribers by the end of June, 3.2 million accounts ahead of where it was three months earlier. Most of Netflix's growth these days is coming from its overseas operations. Netflix is targeting 2.6 million of its net additions to be international subs. 

Netflix did announce that it topped 100 million subscribers just three weeks into the second quarter, putting it on a good pace to exceed its outlook during its seasonally sleepiest period. The market's going to keep a close eye on the final metric, especially since the typically low-balling Netflix has come up short in half of its past four reports. 

Analysts chime in

Analysts have been chiming in with mostly bullish notes lately. The latest nod came from Benjamin Swinburne at Morgan Stanley who on Thursday raised his price target on the stock from $175 to $185. Swinburne notes that there's a correlation between the depth of Netflix's catalog in a specific geographical region and its level of subscriber penetration. With international content ramping up, he sees accelerating growth in newer markets. 

A day earlier we had Doug Mitchelson at UBS revealing that a UBS Evidence Lab survey showed strong momentum for subscriber growth during the recently concluded second quarter. Even a bear -- Michael Pachter at Wedbush -- conceded on Wednesday that Netflix likely surpassed its membership guidance. 

The answers to Mr. Market's questions await at the other end of the weekend. Netflix can't afford to stumble if it wants to keep its recent gains, but a blowout quarter could also propel the stock to new highs.

Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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