Shares of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) hit another all-time high earlier this month, and yet another analyst thinks that the stock is heading higher.
Raymond James boosted its price target on the leading premium video platform on Friday, going from $120 to $140. Raymond James isn't alone. A week earlier we saw Stifel Nicolaus and Topeka Capital Markets push their goals out to $143 to $161, respectively.
Wall Street loves Netflix, and clearly the market feels the same way. Despite hitting new highs at least three analysts feel that the stock will be even higher a year from now. Naturally there are also more than a few skeptics out there, too. There were 28.4 million shares of the stock sold short as of the end of July.
With Netflix stock seemingly defying gravity -- up 154% so far in 2015 as of Thursday's close -- let's go over a few of the things that could take this market darling up and above the latest Wall Street price targets.
1. The content library should continue to expand
Netflix revealed on Tuesday that it's teaming up with mockumentary legend Christopher Guest for the exclusive release of Mascots next year. The movie takes a look at folks competing for a fictional mascot challenge. It should be in the same style of Guest's other popular works, including This Is Spinal Tap and Best In Show that have become cult faves.
If comedy mockumentaries aren't your cup of hee, that's fine. Netlix will reportedly spend $6 billion on content next year alone.
That's important because it sets Netflix apart from the competition. There is no money generating the kind of streaming revenue that Netflix makes off of its 65.5 million accounts worldwide, and that gives it the flexibility to spend more to build out its vault. If you're a maker of content and you want top dollar and the largest audience possible for your work, Netflix is the best way to go. Netflix shares may not move higher on individual content, but it helps with attraction and retention, boosting Netflix's financials along the way.
2. International penetration can start to pick up
Netflix is ubiquitous in the U.S. where it's available in more than a third of the country's homes, and even more of a staple among folks that actively consume video content. Part of the Raymond James boost on Friday was attributed to a survey it conducted of 590 video buffs, revealing that 61% of them are Netflix customers. It's a small sample, sure, but it suggests that growth in the future will come largely from its still nascent international business.
Of the 15.5 million net streaming additions that Netflix has nabbed over the past year, 9.45 million of those are international. However, just 35% of Netflix's 65.5 million streaming subscribers are international. With new markets on tap -- Japan goes online next month -- and existing markets growing, this will be a big part of the Netflix narrative in the future.
3. The scalable model will be able to flex its muscles
Netflix's ambitious global push has come at the expense of near-term margins. It's been posting operating losses in its international business, but that should change as older markets mature and Netflix completes its worldwide rollout.
Right now that's a hard concept for naysayers to accept. They see the triple-digit earnings multiple and assume that this is some outrageously overpriced stock. Some may not realize that Netflix's U.S. operations are far more profitable than all of Netflix, a smart bet on the future. They may not grasp the economies of scale that are possible when you're negotiating content deals where the costs are spread out over more than 60 million paying subscribers -- and counting.
Doubts over Netflix's prospects have actually helped the stock climb the wall of worry that made it the S&P 500's top performer in 2013 and it's a strong contender to earn that distinction again in 2015. The model, financial fortitude, and future are all stronger than you probably think.