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Could Netflix's Domestic Member Growth Beat Estimates?

By Daniel Sparks - Updated Apr 15, 2019 at 12:34PM

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This analyst is betting Netflix stock is headed to $430.

Shares of streaming-TV company Netflix ( NFLX -2.33% ) are rising sharply on Monday, following more optimistic analyst commentary on the stock. The company could post better-than-expected domestic subscriber growth in its important holiday quarter, wrote Piper Jaffray analyst on Monday (by way of Barron's).

With Netflix set to report its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 17, investors will be watching closely to see how many new members the company added during the quarter. The company has seen member growth pick up recently, but some investors worry the streaming-TV giant could face headwinds in member growth domestically, given the company's significant penetration in the United States.

A red couch facing a TV in a home theater

Image source: Getty Images.

Netflix stock: headed to $430?

Netflix's domestic subscribers will increase about 11.5% year over year in Q4, forecasts Piper Jaffray analysts Michael Olson. That would be above the consensus analyst estimate and management's guidance for the quarter, both of which currently call for about 10% year-over-year growth in the key metric. Olson forecasts international subscribers will be in line with the consensus analyst estimate.

Jaffray's forecast is based on Web-search trend data. The firm's search index has boasted a 0.92 to 0.93 correlation to Netflix's subscribers in previous quarters, according to Jaffray.

Jaffray also noted that he believes a trend of shifting consumer spending from traditional TV to connected TV will be a multi-year boon for Netflix.

With these catalysts in mind, Olson reiterated his $430 12-month price target for the stock. Even after the stock's 4.7% gain at the time of this writing at 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday, this implies 38% upside for the stock.

Subscriber growth trends

Netflix has seen significant momentum in its subscribers recently. Paid members for the combined period of Q2 and Q3 of last year were 11.5 million. In the same period in 2017, Netflix added 9.7 million paid subscribers. Domestically, however, Netflix's growth in 2018 was slightly below growth in 2017 for these periods. Combined domestic net subscriber additions for Q2 and Q3 of 2017 were 1.97 million, compared with 1.87 for the same period in 2018.

Netflix is optimistic about its fourth quarter. Management guided for 7.6 million new paid subscribers, up from 6.62 million paid subscriber additions in the fourth quarter of 2017. Netflix expects 1.5 million of these new subscribers to come from the U.S., with about 6.1 million coming from international markets. That compares with a mix of 1.47 million U.S. subscribers and 5.16 million international subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Investors will know exactly what Netflix's subscriber additions for the fourth quarter were when the company reports its fourth-quarter results later this month.

Check out the latest Netflix earnings call transcript.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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