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Netflix's Huge Release Schedule Will Drive Second-Half Gains

By Danny Vena - Jul 8, 2019 at 6:03PM

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Analysts are increasingly bullish on the streaming giant's slate of original content.

The Fourth of July brings with it the smell of meat on the barbecue and sight of fireworks lighting up the night sky. This year it also brought the long-awaited third season of Stranger Things, one of the most popular original shows on Netflix ( NFLX 0.69% ). The just-released season is already Certified Fresh on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, boasting a rating of 89% among critics and an audience score of 92%.

That's not the only hit show that's returning to the streaming platform this month. Other wildly popular programs will be making a comeback as well. With a host of strong shows already on the books and more highly anticipated programming set to debut in the coming months, analysts are jumping on the bandwagon and forecasting a bullish quarter -- and second half -- for Netflix.

Five characters from "Stranger Things."

Sadie Sink, Noah Schnapp, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, and Caleb McLaughlin in a scene from season three of Netflix's Stranger Things. Image source: Netflix.

A bumper crop of subscriber additions?

Earlier this week, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Matthew Thornton posited that Netflix is going from strength to strength. He maintained his buy rating on Netflix with a $402 price target. Thornton expects the streaming giant to add 350,000 domestic subscriber additions, as well as 4.8 million international net adds -- both ahead of analysts' consensus estimates of 300,000 and 4.7 million, respectively.

Imperial Capital analyst David Miller chimed in as well, raving about the impact of Stranger Things. "The brilliance of Stranger Things cannot be underestimated and the series was constructed with the most efficient economics in mind," he wrote. "The show holds unique appeal, and is one of a very few series on any network, linear or virtual, where a whole family may be entertained simultaneously." In the wake of his glowing review, Miller boosted his own subscriber targets, estimating 4.75 million total additions for the quarter.

To put those numbers into perspective, Netflix management is guiding for 5 million net new customers.

Big upcoming debuts

The seventh season of Orange Is The New Black, which will premiere on July 26, will mark the final season of one of the streaming giant's earliest self-produced hits. The program, which follows the lives of the female inmates in Litchfield Penitentiary, has been a perennial favorite among viewers. The show was created by Jenji Kohan, who has since signed an exclusive multiyear deal with Netflix to produce new original series and other projects.

Netflix has confirmed that the third season of hit show 13 Reasons Why is coming in 2019, though it hasn't yet provided a release date. The program was as controversial as it was watched for its unflinching views of suicide and sexual assault. When the second season debuted, it jumped to the No. 1 spot among all U.S. digital series, according to Parrot Analytics.

Mindhunter, which follows the trail of FBI agents in the late 1970s as they travel the country interviewing serial killers, will see its second season debut in August. The first season boasted a 97% rating among critics on Rotten Tomatoes and a 94% audience score.

Two men in suits in a prison interrogation room showing a photo to an unseen inmate.

Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff in a scene from Netflix's original series Mindhunter.

A solid second-quarter slate

Murder Mystery, which has been described as an Agatha Christie-like mystery and stars Netflix favorites Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, also debuted this month. Netflix said the movie was viewed by nearly 31 million accounts in its first three days -- the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix film. Some 13.3 million accounts in North America and another 17.5 million worldwide logged in to watch the movie, though it was widely panned by critics.

Another headliner this past quarter was When They See Us, a miniseries that revisits the infamous Central Park Five case. Netflix tweeted on June 12 that the series "has been the most-watched series in the U.S. every day since it premiered on May 31."

Season four of Lucifer was also a hit. Based on a character from The New York Times best-selling graphic novel Sandman, Lucifer was picked up by Netflix after it was canceled by Fox. According to data analytics firm Parrot Analytics, Lucifer was the most in-demand digital original series in the U.S. during the month of May.

Content is king

Investors have long understood that subscribers are the lifeblood of Netflix as an investment, and intriguing and popular content is what increases the rolls. With its impressive second-quarter slate and an even stronger list of releases in the upcoming months, Netflix investors could be in for a pleasant surprise when the company reports earnings on Wednesday, July 17.

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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