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Netflix Stock: Headed to $450?

By Daniel Sparks - Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 3:27PM

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Another day, another analyst upgrade for Netflix stock.

Check out the latest Netflix earnings call transcript.

Shares of streaming-TV company Netflix (NFLX 1.67%) are rising again on Friday, extending a bullish run for the stock in 2019. Shares are up 27% year to date, recovering some losses from a steep decline in the second half of 2018.

The stock's rise on Friday comes after two analysts boosted their price targets for the stock, raising the bar for the streaming-TV giant going into its fourth-quarter earnings release next week.

A woman eating popcorn and watching TV.

Image source: Getty Images.

What analysts are saying

"Given [the stock's] underperformance in 2H18, vs. traditional media, we believe the combination of positive revisions and emerging signs of long-term profit potential will yield share price outperformance," said Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson in a note to clients (via CNBC). A strong content slate and the company's ability to deliver films conveniently, cost efficiently, and globally will be key drivers for the company in the coming years, Patterson explained.

Patterson upgraded Netflix stock from outperform to a strong buy rating and gave the stock a $450 12-month price target -- up from $435. Highlighting how significant this price target is, it represents 32% upside from the stock's $340 share price at the time of this writing on Friday.

Meanwhile, UBS analyst Eric Sheridan upgraded the stock from neutral to buy, giving the stock a 12-month price target of $410 -- up from $400.

"With content spend now at a scale of the major media companies and titles continuing to demonstrate outsized marketplace success, we see the moat around NFLX's global positioning widening and its long-term secular winner status remaining intact," said Sheridan. In addition, Sheridan said concerns about the company's expected margin compression and negative free cash flow challenges are now "better understood by investors and reflected in the current stock price."

The pressure is on

Of course, with such strong performance from Netflix stock recently, the pressure is on for the company going into its fourth-quarter update on Thursday.

For its fourth quarter, Netflix expects revenue of $4.2 billion, up about 28% from the year-ago period. Profitability, however, is expected to see headwinds as the company's fourth quarter sees a higher mix of original films and more aggressive content spending. Management guided for a fourth-quarter operating margin of 4.9%, down 7.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017. For the quarter's earnings per share, management expects $0.23, down from $0.41 in the year-ago quarter.

Strong member acquisition is expected to be a key driver for Netflix's revenue growth in its fourth quarter. The company is guiding for 7.6 million net new paid members and 9.4 million net new members when including those on free trials.

A number of analysts have been upgrading Netflix stock recently, highlighting the Street's positive view for the company. But it's safe to say that expectations are high following the stock's bullish run recently. If any key metrics come in lower than expected next week, the stock could take a hit.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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