In this segment of the Motley Fool Money podcast, host Chris Hill, Million Dollar Portfolio's Jason Moser, Jim Mueller of Stock Advisor and Motley Fool Options, and Total Income's Ron Gross discuss the thriving business of chipmaker Intel (INTC 2.13%). Revenue didn't rise nearly as fast as profit, but the data center business is making big gains, and the dividend was raised, too. But not every aspect is rosy. They then shift to Netflix (NFLX 1.18%), which has shocked itself by how good its subscriber growth was in the fourth quarter, thanks largely to international markets.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Jan. 26, 2018.
Chris Hill: Intel's first quarter profits rose 37%, and shares of Intel up big on Friday, hitting a new all-time high, Ron.
Ron Gross: Pretty good quarter. Overall revenue only up 4%, which doesn't sound that exciting, but the data center business was up 20%, which I think is the big thing to focus on. Love the fact that they were able to raise their dividend 10%, 2.4% yield right now. Guidance pretty strong, making the stock trade for only about 14 times. Now, not everything is peaches and cream here. The PC business, I think no one would be surprised to hear, is lackluster, hasn't been getting it done for quite some time. And the company is, appropriately, cutting costs to account for the transition in its business to more of a data center driven business. So, that bodes well for margins, and I think probably for the stock in the business going forward.
Jason Moser: Peaches and cream. Maybe there's a Starbucks idea, a little product innovation.
Jim Mueller: My question for you, Ron: Is Intel Inside a dead brand now? Or what?
Gross: No. I think it still has its place, for sure. But clearly, the business is transitioning. Their big move into programmable chips, where you can refigure them on the fly, is a big push for them, but it's still a very small business. But it was up 35% for the quarter. And just regular old chips were up 25% for the quarter. Again, a relatively small piece of the business at this point, but I still think the brand has some legs.
Hill: Shares of Netflix up 23% this week after subscriber growth in the fourth quarter surprised everyone. Jim, I think this subscriber growth probably surprised a few executives at Netflix, too.
Mueller: I think it did, because management at Netflix is really good at guiding where they expect the subscribers to be, and they're usually only off by about 1% or so. Here, they were off by 33% or something like that, two million more than the 6.3 million they guided to. The interesting story here is what the international subscribers did. U.S. subscribers beat handily. That's very nice. But they're getting high up on the penetration. But the international is where the story for this company lies. They came in 1.25 million more people than they expected. And I think that's because the company is executing its business plan that they've shown they can do in Canada and the U.K. and Latin America, every other place they've been to. That is, they launch into a geography, they then spend a while figuring out what exactly people are willing to watch and what they want to watch, so they tweak those offerings. And that makes the service much more desirable, and that helps the subscriber growth.
Moser: Was it possible that any of that growth came from the relationships its forged with companies like T-Mobile, for example, where if you sign up for a T-Mobile service your Netflix subscription is included, yadda. Or was that mostly international that surprised them?
Mueller: Mostly international, I think. They do have some relationships with companies like T-Mobile. I think they have one with France Telecom, too. But, it's not a big part of their growth. A lot of this is just regular, organic growth.
Hill: One of things they talked about was how they're going to be ramping up their marketing spend by more than 50% in 2018. We already know about the content costs. What do you think is keeping Reed Hastings up at night these days, if anything?
Mueller: I think he's sleeping pretty well, actually.
Hill: [laughs] One of the big stories this week was the fact that Netflix is now over $100 billion in terms of market cap. It's actually closing in on $120 billion in market cap.
Mueller: Right, and that's just in one week.
Hill: Yeah. So, what should investors think when they look at this stock, in terms of expectations? Because, I don't want to say the growth days are over, but the trip from $0 to $100 billion ...
Mueller: Oh, definitely, it's an easier trip than $100 billion to $200-400 billion. But, I don't think the growth days are truly over. The market opportunity, that is the number of people with broadband access outside of the United States, is still measured in the billions. And they only have like 120 million subscribers today, so they're still very under-penetrated. What's bothering me with the company right now is that debt level. Their debt-to-equity ratio as of the end of the last year was 1.8, which is pretty high. They're still doing OK on interest coverage of 3-4. And the operating margin is going up to 10% this year, so that's going to improve. But I wish they'd tap the equity market rather than the debt market for raising funds.
Moser: Yeah, that was the point I was going to make. It just seems like this is the perfect time to issue a little equity. Just take advantage of this rich stock price. They could issue a nice little modest percentage and really contribute to that growing content budget.
Mueller: I did a calculation earlier when the share price was a little lower, and they could dilute shareholders by about 5% and raise something like $6 billion.
Gross: I was told there'd be no math.