It seemed like Netflix (NFLX 0.41%) could do no wrong in 2020. The streaming giant was a fan favorite last year, with its stock price climbing 67%, obliterating the 16% gains of the S&P 500. Netflix was the home entertainer of choice as consumers sheltered in place to ride out the pandemic.
Investors can be a fickle bunch, however, and Netflix shares have floundered this year, gaining just 8%, roughly half the 16% gains achieved by the broader market. With the reopening in full swing, some investors have labeled the streaming giant a "pandemic play," casting their gaze on shinier things. That could be a big mistake, as mounting evidence suggests Netflix stock could be due for a rebound.
Let's look at three recent developments that suggest that now may be the time to buy Netflix stock.
1. Netflix is dominating the Emmys
Netflix made history last week at the Emmy awards. The streaming pioneer won 44 trophies this year, more than any other network or streaming service. This was the first time Netflix reigned supreme at the Emmys, not only doubling its take from last year, but tying a long-standing record for the number of awards in a single year that was set back in 1974.
To put the company's achievement in context, Netflix won more than twice the number of awards as its next closest competitor -- AT&T's (T 0.94%) HBO and HBO Max -- which took home 19 awards. This also appears to have ended the cable giant's domination of the annual awards show. Walt Disney's streaming service Disney+ rounded out the top three with 14 Emmys. The Crown and The Queen's Gambit, both Netflix originals, were the big winners this year, winning 11 Emmys each.
In 2013, Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos -- then its chief content officer -- famously said: "The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us." It appears that race is over.
2. Biggest. Show. Ever?
Earlier this month, Netflix debuted Korean-language original series Squid Game to rave reviews. The survival thriller garnered an impressive 100% "Fresh" on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. Sarandos revealed at an investor conference this week that the series has a shot at being Netflix's most popular show ever.
"Squid Game will definitely be our biggest non-English language show in the world, for sure," Sarandos said. He went on to say there's "a very good chance it's going to be our biggest show ever."
Though Netflix has a history of being famously tight-lipped about the viewership of its programming, the company has opened up in recent years, occasionally sharing data about its most popular shows.
For accounts that viewed at least two minutes of a program within 28 days of release (a Netflix internal metric), Sarandos ranked Bridgerton season one (viewed by 82 million accounts), Lupin part one (76 million), and The Witcher season one (76 million) in the top three.
The growing popularity of its original programs should make the platform much stickier for existing subscribers, as well as for attracting new members.
3. Tudum previews lots of new and returning content
This past weekend, Netflix held its first-ever global fan event, Tudum, aptly named for the sound effect that follows the Netflix logo at the start of each of its original programs. During the three-hour event, the company shared previews for more than 100 upcoming shows and movies, while also confirming the return of a number of fan favorites.
This includes Stranger Things 4, a second season for Bridgerton, and the final season of Ozark. Netflix also confirmed the return of The Witcher, Tiger King, La Casa de Papel (Money Heist), and Sex Education. The company also said that its hit movies Extraction and The Old Guard will get sequels.
It's all about the subscribers
Netflix investors have long tracked the rise of subscribers as the primary metric by which to gauge the company's success. It's understandable, then, that Wall Street was somewhat taken aback when Netflix added just 1.54 million new subscribers in the second quarter, the lowest number of quarterly additions in five years. This is largely the result of the pandemic reopening, as many viewers were finally able to get out of their houses and enjoy the summer.
Some investors have placed too much importance on the results of a single quarter. Given the recent headwinds, things will likely only get better from here. In fact, Netflix management is forecasting 3.5 million new subscribers for the third quarter, more than double the additions from Q2.
Netflix isn't alone in thinking the future looks bright. Stifel analyst Scott Devitt recently upgraded Netflix stock to a buy rating and boosted its price target from $580 to $650. Devitt said the company has an "electric content lineup" to close out 2021. He went on to say it's "a very strong content slate on the back of an early pandemic pull-forward, so the setup for Netflix is quite strong," citing the heavy correlation between strong content and increasing subscriber numbers.
Given all the available evidence, it appears now is the time to buy Netflix stock.