Earnings season is just around the corner. We know that because streaming-TV giant Netflix (NFLX -0.31%) recently put a date to its third-quarter earnings call. The growth stock is typically one of the first high-profile megacap companies to report its quarterly results every three months.
Netflix's second-quarter update will be an interesting one -- not just because the company is one of the Street's most closely followed stocks, but also because shares have been hammered recently. The stock is down 28% over the past three months and has officially lost all of its gains from earlier this year. For the full year, shares are down about 1%. The stock's recent troubles will put pressure on the company to deliver a good quarter.
Netflix is scheduled to report its third-quarter results on Oct. 16. Here's an overview of three important areas investors may want to check on when the results go live.
The big story in Netflix's second quarter was its worse-than-expected subscriber growth. The company added 2.7 million members, well below management's guidance for five million net paid member additions during the period. Particularly concerning, however, was the company's sequential decline in domestic subscribers. Domestic subscribers fell by 126,000 sequentially.
Investors should look for this key metric to resume its upward momentum in Q3. If domestic subscribers decline sequentially again, this could imply the U.S. market is reaching maturation earlier than expected.
The impact of competition
Some investors may have been concerned that Netflix's headwind in domestic subscribers was a reflection of an intensifying competitive environment in the streaming-TV space. But Netflix management asserted in its second-quarter shareholder letter that its whiff on subscriber growth unlikely had anything to with competition.
We don't believe competition was a factor since there wasn't a material change in the competitive landscape during Q2, and competitive intensity and our penetration is varied across regions (while our over-forecast was in every region). Rather, we think Q2's content slate drove less growth in paid net adds than we anticipated. Additionally, Q1 was so large for us (9.6m net adds), there may have been more pull-forward effect than we realized
Does management still feel this way? Citing the upcoming launches of streaming services from Apple and Walt Disney, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently admitted that competition was about to get more intense. Could Netflix already seeing some impact from these upcoming services, perhaps in the form of membership cancellations?
Finally, investors should ensure Netflix remains on track with its full-year operating margin guidance.
The company's operating margin jumped significantly in Q2, rising from 11.8% in the year-ago period to 14.3%. While this operating margin was impressive, some of this upside is attributable to a shift of marketing spend into the second half of the year, management said. Importantly, Netflix maintained its outlook for a full-year operating margin of 13% -- up 300 basis points from 2018. It's imperative for Netflix's operating margin to be on track with this target, as the company will need its operating margin to continue expanding in order for it to eventually become free cash flow positive.
Tune into Netflix's investor relations website after market close on Wednesday, Oct. 16 to, see how the company has been performing.