Netflix Sell-Off Is Good for Bulls: Bernstein

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) stock was under pressure earlier this week as investors pounded the streaming video content provider after it posted second-quarter results that showed lower-than-expected subscriber numbers.

That dip in shares of Netflix—it has recovered somewhat in trading Wednesday—isn’t bad news for bulls. In fact, any weakness presents a buying opportunity if you are inclined to follow the advice of Wall Street firm Bernstein. In a research report this week, analyst Todd Juenger argued that whether or not Netflix has 130 million or 131 million subscribers in the quarter doesn’t impact its long-term goal of being the leading player in content streaming around the globe. The analyst said in the note to clients covered by Barron’s that weakness presents an opportunity for Netflix bulls to add to their positions in the stock and provides an opportune entry point for those waiting on the sidelines to get into the stock. (See also: Wall Street Reacts to Netflix Numbers as Shares Slide.)

Bernstein Raises Price Target

The analyst took the opportunity to raise his price target on Netflix to $434 from $372 a share, implying shares could gain an additional 14%. Recently the stock was up 0.53%, or $2.02, to $381.50. The $434 price target does imply Netflix ends 2027 with around 300 million subscribers. In the analyst’s bull case scenario if Netflix hits the 300 million subscriber mark earlier by 2023 the stock would be worth $648, or a more than 70% upside.

For the second quarter, Netflix said it had new subscribers of 5.15 million which was lower than the 6.34 million Wall Street was looking for. It is the first time it missed on subscriber numbers in five quarters. For the third quarter, Netflix said it expects to add 5 million subscribers, lower than the 6 million the Street expected. (See also: Top 3 Netflix Shareholders.)

Third Quarter Concerns Overblown?

As for concerns about Netflix’s subscriber forecast for the current third quarter, Juenger said the company has a strong lineup of content coming over the course of the next few months, which should bode well for subscriber numbers. Deals with cable operators in the U.S. and overseas in which Netflix is bundled into the packages should also increase subscriber numbers, argued the analyst in the note.

“While we do not believe management purposefully tries to lowball their quarterly subscriber forecasts (this quarter should be evidence of that), we do believe they have every reason to be extra cautious with their Q3 forecast,” Juenger wrote, reported Barron’s. “They do not want to ‘miss’ for two consecutive quarters. While we have taken our Q3 sub forecast down, as a matter of prudence, we remain slightly above management forecast, and believe the risk/reward is skewed to the upside.”

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