Netflix shares sink more than 30%, deepening selloff after subscriber loss

Click to play video: 'Netflix could start cracking down on shared accounts after losing 200K subscribers'
Netflix could start cracking down on shared accounts after losing 200K subscribers
Netflix is considering a ban on account-sharing after its customer base fell by 200,000 subscribers during the January-March quarter – Apr 20, 2022

Netflix Inc lost more than a third of its value Wednesday after reporting its first subscriber loss in more than a decade and predicting more grim times ahead.

The technology giant slumped 34 per cent. The company suffered its first subscriber loss in more than a decade and expects a steeper decline during the current quarter. It is also considering changes that it has long resisted, including minimizing password sharing and creating a low-cost subscription supported by advertising.

“Netflix is a poster child for what happens to growth companies when they lose their growth,” said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

“People buy growth companies because they think their cash flow is going to grow so they’re paying ahead for anticipating that. When a stock like this tumbles, people looking for growth
back away quickly.”

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Brokerage J.P.Morgan made the most aggressive move by halving its price target to $305 – well below the stock’s median Wall Street target of $400.

“Near-term visibility is limited … and there’s not much to get excited about over the next few months beyond the new, much lower stock price,” J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth said.

Anmuth also slashed his estimate for 2022 net subscriber additions by half to 8 million.

The share slump could erase the stock’s gain over the past two years, when its business thrived as new customers joined its platform to ride out the lockdowns.

In an effort to calm nerves, company executives told analysts on Tuesday they were looking to offer an advertisement-based tier over the next year or two and promised
a crackdown on password sharing – a long-running problem for the service.

“We’ve got the full kitchen sink … That might not be enough,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Netflix’s rivals already have ad-driven versions or are considering one – HBO Max offers an ad-supported subscription, while Disney+ recently said it would launch an ad-based tier.

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“We’re left with a business in transition. Subscribers have slowed and we struggle to see a return to a pre-COVID net add cadence,” Piper Sandler analyst Thomas Champion said in a note.

Click to play video: 'Tech Talk: TV and movie streaming options in Canada'
Tech Talk: TV and movie streaming options in Canada

Demand for fresh and engaging content is also increasing, forcing Netflix and others to think about bigger budgets for production even as costs increase in an inflationary environment.

“Netflix’s profitability or business model is not the problem as the figures show, but that some consumers might be canceling their subscription due to inflation and post-pandemic user fatigue,” said Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy at Saxo Bank.

For the second quarter, Netflix has lined up new seasons of popular shows ‘Ozark’, ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Grace and Frankie’.

Needham, however, took a divergent view. The brokerage upgraded its rating on the stock to “hold” from “underperform,” encouraged by the company’s plans to add a low-priced advertising tier.

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(Reporting by Nivedita Balu, Eva Mathews and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sweta Singh and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

With files from the Associated Press

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