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Netflix, Inc. Earnings: What to Watch

By Daniel Sparks - Oct 5, 2017 at 10:21AM

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Last quarter, Netflix delivered the goods -- and investors loved it. But with the stock up 49% year to date, the pressure is high going into third-quarter earnings.

Streaming-TV giant Netflix (NFLX -0.98%) will be tested later this month. The company is scheduled to report its third-quarter results after market close on Oct. 16. 

Netflix stock has seen a bullish run in 2017. The stock is up an extraordinary 49% year to date. With such a significant rise, it's fair to say that the pressure is high when Netflix shares its latest update on its business.

Here are three of the most important metrics investors should watch when Netflix reports its third-quarter results.

NFLX Chart

NFLX data by YCharts.

Revenue and earnings per share

Netflix has seen significant revenue and EPS growth recently, and analysts expect these trends to continue in its third quarter. On average, analysts expect the company to report third-quarter revenue of $2.97 billion, up from $2.29 billion in the year-ago quarter. For Netflix's EPS, the consensus estimate is $0.32, up from $0.12 in the year-ago quarter.

Analyst expectations mirror management's own guidance for the quarter. This makes sense since its guidance in Q2 ended up being spot on.

Management expects its third-quarter revenue growth to be primarily driven by growth in international streaming revenue. The company guided for third-quarter international streaming revenue of $1.3 billion, up hugely from $853 million in the year-ago quarter. But it still expects its U.S. revenue from streaming to help. Netflix guided for $1.56 billion in U.S. streaming revenue, up from $1.3 billion in the year-ago quarter

Streaming members

Netflix's net additions of streaming members surprised investors in Q2. The company added an impressive 5.2 million new members, but had only expected to add 3.2 million new members. 

A group of friends watching a movie

Image source: Getty Images.

After admitting it "underestimated the popularity of our strong slate of content which led to higher-than-expected acquisition across all major territories," Netflix provided a more bullish forecast for Q3, guiding for 4.4 million net streaming member additions, up from the 3.57 million new members it added in the third quarter of 2016. Netflix expects 750,000 of these new members to come from the U.S. market and 3.65 million to be added internationally.

Operating margin

At the beginning of the year, Netflix said it wanted to increase its operating margin after averaging an operating margin of about 4% for two years straight.

"From here, we will seek to steadily increase revenue and operating margin as we balance growth and profitability," Netflix said in its 2016 fourth-quarter letter shareholder letter in January. Management set a target for a full-year operating margin of 7% in 2017. 

Netflix originals

Image source: Netflix.

So far, Netflix has lived up to its plans to balance growth and profitability. Through the first half of the year, the company has not only increased its members faster than anticipated, but its operating margin during this period came in at 7.1%.

For Netflix's third quarter, management guided for an operating margin of 6.9%. Investors should look for it to not only reaffirm its full-year target operating margin of 7% but also its plan to widen its operating margin further "in 2018 and beyond."

Investors will be watching the third-quarter earnings release closely. A higher stock price means Netflix may need to exceed expectations to impress.

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