Netflix (NFLX 1.56%) shares have taken a beating lately, but they surged again on Thursday. Share prices jumped as much as 4.1%. Trading volume was surprisingly average given the magnitude of the price move.
Behind the dramatic market action, you'll find positive comments and a raised price target from Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry.
Terry raised his target price on Netflix shares from $125, to $184. The overall recommendation stayed put at "neutral."
The firm noted that streaming services made a fantastic impact on Netflix's business in the early days, thanks to the greater ease and frequency of accessing movies, compared to the old DVD mailer model. Terry sees the story repeating right now.
The first streaming surge "resulted in an increase in subscriber growth, reduced churn, and higher [average revenues per user]," Terry said. "We believe that the same is beginning to occur now."
In his estimation, Netflix should hit 53 million domestic subscribers in 2017. Subscriber estimates for 2013 and 2014 were also raised, and stand above Wall Street's consensus figures.
All this growth is balanced by high-risk and expensive price multiples when compared to other New Media stocks. That's still enough to boost price targets modestly higher than currently going rates, and investors take notice when a star analyst of Terry's caliber speaks.
I still believe that Netflix will grow subscriber counts even faster than Heath Terry's model. My most conservative model sees Netflix hitting at least 60 million domestic streamers in 2016. Share prices should get back to $300 or more by 2017, assuming that Netflix hits somewhat more optimistic targets.
Goldman Sachs says that Netflix looks fairly valued today; I say it's incredibly cheap. Share your own thoughts in the comments box below.