There is a real opportunity now with with iQiyi (NASDAQ:IQ). The Chinese streaming service has hit the ground running since its IPO in April, with IQ stock more than doubling and analysts drawing comparisons to its U.S. counterpart Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).
Remember, if you were brave enough to jump on board with Netflix when the company was still mailing out DVDs, you’d be in pretty great shape today. After all, NFLX has gone from just $10 per share to nearly $400 in just 6 years.
The Netflix of China
IQ stock has been dubbed ‘the Netflix of China’ not only because the two companies offer a comprehensive movie and TV streaming platform, but because the firm is experiencing similar success in its early days.
Right now, IQ offers both a free, ad-supported subscription as well as a VIP paid service which each contribute equally to the firm’s overall revenue.
Subscriber growth has been strong at iQiyi- at the end of 2015 the firm boasted 10 million subscribers and that figure jumped to 50 million by the end of 2017.
That translated to 50.8 million IQ subscribers and 421.5 million months active users. To put that into perspective, that’s around half of Netflix’s subscriber count and IQ only operates in one country.
Even more impressive is the fact that the firm was able to increase subscriber numbers by 10 million during the first quarter of this year.
Not Quite Netflix
While IQ stock and Netflix certainly have some similarities, it’s not strictly an apples to apples comparison. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is their home country.
Netflix is based in the US and operates in countries all over the world. iQiyi is headquartered in China and serves only the Chinese market.
This can be a positive and a negative for IQ stock investors.
On the plus side, IQ has been relatively insulated from competitors like Netflix itself because of China’s strict laws that are able to limit which businesses make their way to the public.
There’s also the fact that China has an enormous population that is making its way online quickly, creating a huge growth runway just within the country itself.
However, there are several negatives that come along with being a Chinese firm. For one there’s volatility.
The success of stocks like IQ are closely tied to the Chinese economy which can make investors wary because it’s difficult to make accurate predictions considering Beijing doesn’t have a great track record of transparency.
Plus, trade tension and the Trump administration made the market skittish when it comes to Chinese stocks, so news-related volatility will also come into play.
There’s also the question of whether or not IQ will be able to grow outside of China’s borders when the time comes. If not, then potential growth for the streaming service is limited.
Finally, unlike Netflix, iQiyi has the benefit of strong backing from another huge tech firm, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), which still holds a majority stake.
Being close to Baidu means IQ can lean heavily on BIDU’s tech know-how for things like AI and search optimization.
As fellow InvestorPlace Contributor Bret Kenwell put it, “imagine if Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) had spun out Netflix, retained an 80% position and helped it on the tech side.”
The Bottom Line on IQ Stock
If you missed IQ stock’s impressive IPO performance, there might be another investment opportunity on the horizon.
The share price has shed $10 in just a week as investors booked profits and worries about tension between China and the US hurt Chinese investments overall.
It’s difficult to say how much further IQ has to fall, but investors should definitely have the stock on their radar moving forward.
Keep in mind that IPO investing is a tricky business and volatility is to be expected. Quite a few successful IPO’s saw sharp pullbacks after an initial pop, but those stocks continued to trade at low levels for a matter of years before making a comeback.
It’s hard to imagine that IQ stock will trade below $30 for any period of time when you look at the company’s potential.
Of course, you might have to hold on to it for a while before realizing any tangible gains but I’d expect to see the share price improve in the coming months as long as its user numbers continued to improve in the second quarter.
As of this writing, Laura Hoy was long NFLX.
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