After a mixed third-quarter earnings release Monday, shares of Netflix fell more than 1.7% on Tuesday. Despite solid subscriber growth, investors were unimpressed with several other key figures from the report, which has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the tech sector—especially the notorious “FANG” stocks—and left many wondering what exactly this earnings season has in store for us.
FANG, an acronym coined by CNBC’s Jim Cramer several years ago, refers to Facebook (FB - Free Report) , Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) , Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) , and Google (GOOGL - Free Report) . Each of these companies are primarily focused on tech or internet services, and they all own a solid share of the market in their respective industries.
These stocks have all been red-hot this year, which means the pressure is on as we approach their respective report dates. As the reaction to Netflix’s earnings proves, investors don’t just want to be surprised by the FANG stocks this quarter—they want to be blown away.
What Netflix’s Q3 Earnings Report Showed
For the third quarter, Netflix reported earnings of 29 cents per share, missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 32 cents per share. This marked the second-consecutive quarter in which Netflix missed earnings estimates. Before this streak, the company hadn’t missed estimates since 2010.
Netflix was able to surpass sales expectations, with total revenues of $2.99 billion just edging past our consensus estimate of $2.97 billion. Total revenues were up about 30.3% year-over-year, while streaming revenues of $2.875 billion increased more than 33% from the year-ago period (also read: Netflix Crushes Q3 U.S. and International Streaming Subscriber Estimates).
According to the report, Netflix had 52.77 million total domestic streaming members and 56.48 million total international members at the end of the third quarter. Headed into the earnings announcement, our non-financial consensus estimates were calling for Netflix to report total domestic streaming subscribers of 52.70 million and total international subscribers of 55.71 million.
Shortly after the release of the report, Netflix shares popped in after-hours trading. Investors initially appeared to be satisfied with the company’s better-than-expected subscriber growth figures, but it looks like that optimism was quickly replaced with hesitation brought on by other key details of the report.
For one, investors got a better idea of how costly Netflix’s international expansion and original programming development has been. The company 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.
But what does any of this tell us about the other FANG stocks? Well, it underscores a shift in focus among our marquee tech companies. Netflix used to trade solely on its subscriber growth numbers, but now investors want to see the company operate more efficiently. In a similar vein, investors will be interested in new metrics throughout the other FANG reports.
Take Facebook, for example. Facebook warned investors that this year would be one of heavy investments into its future and significantly slowed year-over-year growth. The company has actually done a great job of exceeding bottom-line expectations in 2017, but it’s clear that management is looking to itself up for success years down the line.
While this could mean a short-term hit to earnings, Facebook longs should be rejoicing that the company has realized it needs to work on the next big growth opportunity right now. That may take years to pay off, but Mark Zuckerberg and company have a history of being right.
For Amazon, the story is similar. We once focused on the growth of its e-commerce business and questioned its ability to dominate traditional retailers. Now Amazon has all but killed old-school retail, and investors are more concerned with the growth of Amazon Web Services and Amazon’s media investments.
On top of this, Amazon has signaled its intentions to enter the corners of retail that were once considered “Amazon-proof.” As we know, the e-commerce king pushed the chips all in on brick-and-mortar grocery when it purchased Whole Foods earlier this year, and it looks like Amazon is considering an entrance into the pharmacy business as well.
Google has a similar story. Heck, Google isn’t even Google anymore. Alphabet Inc., the new-ish parent company of Google, has its hands in just about every emerging tech market. Why? Because Google’s traditional advertising business is slowly fading. The company is focusing on new growth opportunities.
As we look ahead to the upcoming earnings announcements from Facebook, Amazon, and Alphabet, make sure to take the reaction to Netflix’s report as an indicator of a key industry trend. Don’t get caught up in the old metrics, and be ready to react to what Wall Street cares about today!
Want more stock market analysis from this author? Make sure to follow @Ryan_McQueeney on Twitter!
Looking for Stocks with Skyrocketing Upside?
Zacks has just released a Special Report on the booming investment opportunities of legal marijuana.
Ignited by new referendums and legislation, this industry is expected to blast from an already robust $6.7 billion to $20.2 billion in 2021. Early investors stand to make a killing, but you have to be ready to act and know just where to look. See the pot trades we're targeting>>