It didn't take long for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) to bounce back as a dot-com darling. Shares of the undisputed champ in premium video streaming raced 25.7% higher last week after posting better-than expected third-quarter results. Roughly a dozen analysts boosted their price targets on Netflix after the stock was off to the races.
The market was genuinely surprised by the blowout showing, something that doesn't happen often at Netflix given its history of lowballing its prospects. Coming up short for its second quarter three months earlier -- a rare miss -- reset market expectations for Netflix. Many Wall Street pros questioned if the digital content distributor would be able to meet its forecast calling for 2.3 million net additions during the third quarter, but it wasn't even close.
Netflix cleared its own mark with ease, closing out the summer quarter with nearly 3.6 million streaming accounts than it had when the quarter began.
You've come a long way
A 26% weekly move in any stock is a big deal, but it's particularly impressive when a company as large as Netflix can pull off such a big step up. We're talking about an $11.4 billion pop in its market cap over the past five trading days. To frame this properly, Netflix was worth just $5 billion four years ago. A lot can happen in a presidential election cycle.
Netflix was out of favor four years ago. It was still wallowing in the aftermath of the prior year's Qwikster fiasco, with consumers bellyaching about having to pay for the streaming service that used to be included with its DVD plans. It seems laughable now, with Netflix getting the last laugh. Splitting its business in two may have seemed disastrous at the time, but it set the stage for one of the best-performing stocks over the past four years.
Netflix stock would go on to become the S&P 500's biggest gainer in 2013 and again in 2015. It's not likely to repeat in 2016, but last week's move finds the shares again in positive territory year to date.
The rejuvenated dot-com darling won't likely have the benefit of taking the market by surprise in such a dramatic way if it pushes out another strong report during the holiday quarter. It's no longer out of favor. Netflix is no longer coming off a rare miss with analysts skeptical to be on the over instead of the under in assessing corporate guidance.
The subscriber target is now 91.94 million subscribers worldwide by the end of the year. Netflix isn't going to sneak up on investors the way it did last time out, and with such a gargantuan lead over any rival platform, the same can also be said about any competitor that may try to sneak up on Netflix at this point. The chances of another 26% weekly pop after its next quarterly report are low, but there will also be less fear of the stock falling apart the way it did earlier this year.