Internet services firm Netflix (NFLX - Analyst Report) beat earnings estimates after the bell Monday, reporting 49 cents per share versus an expected 41 cents in the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Revenues came roughly in line: $1.07 billion reported, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate was for $1075 million.
You'd think everything was coming up roses for Netflix, following the company's original content receiving Emmy nominations last week. Both the fourth season of resurrected comedy "Arrested Development" and the debut season of political drama "House of Cards" saw quality accolades in terms of Emmy nominations. It also set Netflix apart from its main competitors such as Amazon (AMZN - Analyst Report), Hulu and Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) threatening to take market share in streaming entertainment.
Couple things to keep in mind here: Q3 guidance for Netflix was very broad, between 30 - 56 cents in earnings is expected for next quarter. Ahead of the announcement, the Zacks Consensus Estimate was for 46 cents per share. That's obviously within the zone, but that extra chance of a downward bias may be troubling some investors.
Also, Netflix is a company that's trading at an extraordinary multiple: nearly 160x earnings estimates for fiscal 2013. So while the company may see fit to celebrate yet another quality positive earnings surprise, its stock is already priced for near-perfection.
That said, an 8-cent beat ain't chicken feed, at least not one that generally constitutes a major sell-off. Perhaps investors were looking for more in terms of subscriber trends, especially considering "Arrested Development" had launched over Memorial Day weekend during the quarter.
Total members reached 29.8 million in Q2, with domestic streaming representing 25.62 million of that, and Netflix altogether gained 630K new subscribers in the 3 month of the quarter. Impressive numbers, no doubt, but expectations were for even higher -- 880K or so. Proves yet again that everything is "relative" (as the characters from "Arrested Development" could tell you themselves).
Anyhow, Netflix's phoenix-like ascension from the wall of worry in late 2011 had helped the stock creep back up into the ballpark of all-time highs, but that appears to be over as of Monday's after-market, with the stock down nearly 7%. Whether or not the company's lofty multiple will be deemed warranted as it ventures to reinvent home entertainment as we know it remains to be seen -- and the nervousness of investors may have a point; ask HBO how easy it is to provide hit entertainment quarter after quarter -- but this is quite a tumble for a stock looking to be more or less firing on all cylinders.
Prior to the earnings report, Netflix had a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), and had gained nearly 40% on the Zacks Focus List since it was introduced on March 11 of this year. Right now, it looks like there's a sale on for one of the best success stories in the 2013 stock market.