After closing about 1.6% higher on Monday, Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) shares climbed another 1.5% in after-hours trading in the wake of the company’s third-quarter earnings report. Investors are responding positively after the video streaming platform once again surpassed subscriber growth estimates.
According to the just-released report, Netflix had 52.77 million total domestic streaming members and 56.48 million total international members at the end of the third quarter. The platform’s 109.25 million total subscribers was well ahead of our consensus estimate, which called for 108.41 million subscribers worldwide.
Netflix’s latest results mark its second-consecutive quarter of better-than-expected subscriber growth. At the end of Q2, the video streaming platform had about 51.92 million domestic streaming subscribers and 52.03 million international subscribers, smashing our consensus estimates of 51.49 million and 50.49 million, respectively (also read: Netflix Crushes Q3 U.S. and International Streaming Subscriber Estimates).
However, the company’s subscriber growth has come at a cost. Last quarter, Netflix missed earnings estimates for the first time since 2010, and the company continued that trend in Q3. According to today’s report, Netflix saw quarterly profits of 29 cents per share, which missed our consensus estimate of 32 cents per share.
As one could imagine, doubling down on original programming and rapidly expanding throughout many key international markets have been pricey endeavors for Netflix. The company is burning through a lot of cash, and its long-term debt is starting to pile up.
In fact, Netflix’s third-quarter report revealed that its long-term debt now totals $4.89 billion. This is up nearly 46% from the $3.36 billion in long-term debt that it started the year with, and it marks a 106% growth in debt from the end of the year-ago period.
Investors should also note that Netflix said its total liabilities have reached $13.62 billion, up from $10.91 billion at the end of 2016 and $9.82 billion in the prior-year quarter. For even more context, the company said that its non-GAAP free cash flow in the third quarter was -$465 million.
Netflix also reported cash and cash equivalents of $1.75 billion. While that is a significant improvement from the $969 million reported last year, it is down about 9% from the $1.92 billion that it started the quarter with.
Regardless, we must still ask ourselves: is anyone surprised that Netflix is burning so much cash right now? Management has certainly not been shy about their intentions to expand the platform’s content library, as the idea of reaching 50% original programming over the next few years has been touted as a public goal.
On paper, several of Netflix’s other key metrics might seem concerning too. The stock is trading at more than 150x earnings, and even its P/S ratio—a figure often preferred for high-growth tech companies—sits at an astronomical 8.30.
Nevertheless, Netflix has proven its ability to consistently grow its customer base and produce popular original content. If it can continue to do these things well, global operations should become more efficient, and spending concerns should be relaxed.
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