The hours are ticking ahead of this afternoon's quarterly report, and Netflix (NFLX 2.60%) investors are running scared. The stock has fallen 5.1% in the past two trading days. The slide is largely the handiwork of concerns stemming from Disney (DIS -0.65%) unveiling the aggressively priced streaming service it will launch in November, but the shares would've fared better in the aftermath if investors were confident that there would be a blowout financial report waiting at the other end of today's closing bell.
The stakes are high for Netflix. It's been one of tech's hottest stocks, but it's trading essentially where it was three months ago. There's a lot riding on Tuesday afternoon's quarterly report, and a couple of analysts are stepping up to call this a buying opportunity.
Stifel analyst Scott Devitt was one of two Wall Street pros to come to Netflix's defense on Monday. Devitt feels that the the sell-off is overdone, arguing that Netflix will spend six times as much as Disney+ on content next year. Netflix will continue to outspend Disney+, and understandably so since it will have a much larger audience paying nearly twice as much as Disney+ subscribers. Devitt feels that investors should be separating the winners from the losers instead of trying to size up two obvious winners.
Devitt's argument isn't entirely bulletproof. The allure of Disney+ is the entire catalogs of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and now Fox that will call the platform home. The exclusive original content that will populate the service in the years to come is merely gravy for a service that will prove magnetic to young families with children that love to continuously stream Disney classics. However, he is spot on about Netflix and Disney being dominant players in what will be a much bigger pie by the time Disney+ joins Netflix in profitability come 2024. Devitt has a buy rating and a $400 price target on the shares.
Matthew Thornton at SunTrust is also talking up Netflix with his buy rating and slightly higher target price of $402. His proprietary tracker of subscriber activity shows the increase in accounts in line with the 1.6 million that Netflix is targeting domestically, but slightly ahead of the 7.3 million additions that Netflix was forecasting internationally back in mid-January. In short, Netflix should come in slightly ahead of the 8.9 million net adds it was targeting three months ago.
Thornton has his concerns with the guidance that Netflix will put out shortly after Tuesday's market close. He is confident about international growth expectations, but he sees Netflix facing a tough hurdle to clear on the stateside front. Between the domestic increase in monthly rates and the competition turning heads, Netflix is going to need its international operations to take the growth baton and run from here.
There are fewer concerns with its top- and bottom-line performance, as Netflix set the bar low for its income statement guidance earlier this year. It sees revenue growth slowing to 21% for the quarter and an actual decline in net income. Tuesday afternoon is going to be all about the subs, and exceeding its earlier forecast and putting out encouraging user gain guidance for the current quarter will be what ultimately dictates whether the stock is ready to bounce back.