Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) shares soared to new highs Thursday, as investors clamor for stocks that are immune to the coronavirus economic downturn. Soon, all eyes on Wall Street will likely turn to the streaming TV giant when it reports its first quarter fiscal 2020 financial results after the closing bell on Tuesday, April 21.
Netflix & the Coronavirus
Netflix is currently the world’s largest streaming TV firm, with 167 million global users. Netflix stock has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic, alongside Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) —which also hit a new high Thursday—as well as Zoom Video (ZM - Free Report) , and other stocks that appear tailor-made for the current stay-at-home economy.
NFLX does face competition from newcomers such as Disney+ (DIS - Free Report) , Apple TV+ (AAPL - Free Report) , and the beefed-up HBO Max that is set to launch in May. That said, millions of more people are set to cut the cord in the next several years, and unlike Apple Music vs. Spotify (SPOT - Free Report) , the streaming TV firms offer, for the most part, vastly different content libraries. Therefore, consumers who sign up for Disney+ won’t necessarily dump Netflix, or vice versa.
The coronavirus has already taken a devastating toll on the U.S. and global economy. There are signs that social distancing measures are helping to flatten the curve, and the calls to reopen parts of the economy will only grow louder in the coming days.
However, it is unclear how quickly this will happen and what the new near-term normal will look like. Even if things start to open up, it seems highly unlikely that concert venues, sports arenas, and movie theaters will be part of any early wave—and it is possible people avoid them until there are vaccines.
Although none of this sounds appealing, it is a possible scenario, which means millions of people are likely to be stuck on the couch watching TV and movies.
Netflix said last quarter, well before the coronavirus was a global pandemic, that it expected to add 7 million global paid users in the first quarter of 2020. This would mark a 17% expansion from the year-ago period and see NFLX end the period with 174.09 million global users.
Meanwhile, our current Zacks estimates call for Netflix’s adjusted Q1 earnings to skyrocket 113% from $0.76 per share in the prior-year quarter to $1.62 a share. The company’s first quarter revenue is expected to jump 26.1% to reach $5.70 billion. This would top Q1 FY19’s 22% sales growth.
The nearby graphic shows that NFLX’s earnings revisions have trended upward overall. This positivity helps Netflix stock hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) right now. The company has also crushed our bottom-line estimates by an average of 58% in trailing four periods.
Investors should note that Netflix stock has historically traded based on its subscriber results following its earnings releases. Therefore, playing NFLX stock around earnings for short-term gains is often a bet on a user growth beat.
Netflix shares have already surged over 35% in 2020—46% since March 16—and closed regular trading Thursday at a new all-time high of $439.17 a share. The stock could continue to climb, given its recent safe-haven status and its ability to grow as part of a streaming TV space that will play a vital role in entrainment for years, if not decades to come.
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