As pandemic restrictions have loosened and the economy continues marching ahead, perhaps no topic has garnered more attention than rising prices. An unexpected surge in consumer demand following the worst of the pandemic is having ripple effects across various sectors and geographies, and it's something that businesses need to deal with in order to succeed.
For investors trying to properly position their portfolios, inflation worries are certainly top of mind today. To combat this, owning shares in companies that exhibit pricing power is a good strategy.
If you're looking to mitigate the effect of inflation on the performance of your holdings, take a look at this well-known streaming stock.
Asking the customer to pay more
As the trailblazer in the streaming space, Netflix (NFLX 1.09%) has amassed nearly 209 million subscribers across the globe and generated sales of $27.6 billion over the past 12 months. In addition to being the first and biggest streaming business (by number of subscribers), what makes Netflix remarkable is its ability to raise prices. This is the type of company you want to own if you're concerned about inflation.
Netflix has increased the cost for consumers numerous times over the past few years. In April 2014, the monthly price of a Standard streaming subscription in the U.S. market increased for the first time, from $7.99 to $8.99. In October 2015, it was bumped up again by $1. How did consumers react? In 2015 and 2016, Netflix added a combined 36 million subscribers, growing its membership base by an impressive 63% over those 24 months compared to year-end 2014.
Probably the most dramatic price hike came in January of 2019, when all three tiers of Netflix subscriptions saw their prices rise. Premium and Standard members had to pay $2 more per month, while Basic customers were now required to pay $1 more. Again, this had minimal, if any, effect on the growth in subscribers, as Netflix boosted its membership count by 28 million in 2019.
Toward the end of last year, the company had its most recent price hike. And although Netflix had a largely unimpressive first six months of 2021, we will have to wait for the rest of the year to play out to make any definitive conclusion about customers' reactions.
These price moves are not unique to the domestic service, either. Netflix is raising prices all around the world on a market-by-market basis.
Obviously, the emergence of newer streaming rivals could affect Netflix's ability to continue this strategy. But with a vast and growing catalog and a massive $17 billion content budget this year, the company's value to consumers is clear. And because of how ingrained Netflix's service is in our day-to-day lives, it can be argued that this is a consumer staple. That should ease any investor fears about inflation.
Internet business model has its perks
There have been countless stories in the financial news about how difficult the current environment has been on the cost side. Companies cite supply chain issues, rising commodity costs, and a shortage of truck drivers as key problems they've had to deal with over the past few months. Netflix doesn't have to worry about any of this.
Compared to businesses that sell physical goods, Netflix has a huge advantage in that it offers a digital service. It doesn't have to pay for transportation and freight services or deal with the unpredictable nature of oil or lumber prices. Consequently, delivering video entertainment via the internet allows Netflix to avoid these headaches.
Besides the previously mentioned price increases, being an internet-enabled business makes Netflix a solid stock to own during inflationary times. Keep this in mind as you adjust your portfolio from now on.