Anyone who expected first-quarter earnings to be the first major hurdle for Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has to be disappointed. While the streaming video titan didn’t exactly pass its Q1 test with flying colors, Wall Street is happy enough with results, and NFLX stock is up in Monday’s after-hours trading as a result.
A quick look at the headline numbers:
- Earnings: Q1 profits increased 516% year-over-year to 40 cents per share. Analysts were expecting 37 cents.
- Revenues: Q1 revs were up 34.7% year-over-year to $2.64 billion. Analysts were expecting $2.65 billion.
Perhaps more troubling than the slight revenue miss, however, were subscriber numbers. U.S. subscribers grew by just 1.42 million — short of NFLX’s own guidance for 1.5 million, and analysts expectations of 1.59 million. International subscribers — expected to be the strong suit of Q1 earnings — came in at 3.53 million, missing both Netflix (3.7 million) and Wall Street (3.9 million) marks. All told, Netflix now boasts 98.75 million subscribers, whereas the Street thought they’d be at 98.925 million.
But growth isn’t gone — it’s just lagging a bit. The company guided domestic subscriber additions of 600,000 and international subscriber additions of 2.6 million for Q2, with both figures easily trouncing the pros’ expectations.
Investors would do well to keep their eye on cash flow, which … well, didn’t exist last quarter. Free cash flow for Q1 came to -$423 million, and expects to burn about $2 billion in cash this year. Netflix can say what it wants about Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) YouTube, as well as Hulu and Sling TV, not being competitive threats, but it’s not hemorrhaging cash to fight off ghosts.
The mixed report — and the tepid respond from NFLX stock — does put shares in a sticky wicket, though.
Netflix stock has been testing its 20- and 50-day moving averages as support for the better part of the past year, though it has failed to make any lasting, meaningful breaks below. Still, shares are trading in an increasingly narrow range and look poised to pop out — one would have thought in an upward manner, if Wall Street planned on trading positively.
The risk? Tomorrow morning, investors are far more focused on the Q1 subscriber expectations that drove NFLX stock some 25% higher in 2017’s first few months, and how badly Netflix fell short. Perhaps they’ll look at the tire fire that is Netflix’s cash situation, too, but it’s no different now than it has been, and most analysts don’t expect this to change until next year, or maybe even 2019. Like Amazon.com, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) valuation, investors probably are willing to continue living with it.
NFLX stock scored a small win today, but gains are increasingly timid. The next couple of days will be vital, as a lack of follow-through buying could lead to a breakdown. A bad-case scenario would be the 200-day MA at around $119, or roughly 17% lower from here.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.