Netflix is loved again. Stock surges 11%.October 3, 2012: 4:15 PM ET
Investors have fallen in love with Netflix (NFLX) again. The online streaming (don't call us a DVD by mail rental service!) giant's shares surged nearly 11% Tuesday after Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney issued a positive report on the company. Mahaney cited a survey his firm did that showed improving customer satisfaction with Netflix's service.
Is it really possible that Netflix has recovered from the PR nightmare surrounding last year's huge price hike and its failed attempt to rebrand the DVD unit as Qwikster? It appears that way.
This bit of good news for Netflix comes just two days after shares popped after hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson reiterated that he likes the stock.
He even went so far to say that Netflix, which some investors feel is spending too much on content deals and international expansion, could rebound much like Amazon (AMZN) has done in the past few years. Amazon was widely criticized for investing heavily on new products and services but the strategy has yielded big rewards for investors. Shares now trade near an all-time high.
Some users on StockTwits are enthusiastic about the recent signs of life.
Not sure I agree that Netflix is trading at a "reasonable" valuation. Sure, it may have been oversold. But unless earnings estimates head dramatically higher, you're looking at a stock that is trading at more than 60 times consensus 2013 forecasts.
The only way to justify the current price on Netflix is if you believe the most bullish projection. One analyst thinks Netflix will earn $3.56 a share next year. So Netflix is only trading at 17 times that forecast. However, the range of estimates for this stock is extremely wide. The most bearish analyst is predicting a 5 cent per share loss in 2013.
Crazy is an understatement. Even with today's big move, shares are still down more than 11% year-to-date. But at one point this year, Netflix was up more than 90%!
And there are still many traders on StockTwits who do not believe the comeback for Netflix is for real.
Many analysts and investors are worried about churn, the level of customers that are leaving Netflix. As for Sirius XM (SIRI), the satellite radio company does face some similar challenges, i.e. convincing people to pay monthly subscriptions for a service that can often be found free elsewhere. But it could have more potential if for no other reason than the fact that Sirius might get acquired by investor Liberty Media (LMCA).
Netflix might have some takeover appeal. Tilson made that case Monday. But so far, it still seems unclear if any big media firm would want to own Netflix since it would put them at odds with all their other rivals when it comes to doing future content deals.
Is Netflix a good stock to short right now? Perhaps. The fundamentals still don't look fantastic. But the moves in this company's shares are so volatile, I think the best thing for any investor that isn't willing to tolerate big risks to do is just stay out of the way and watch. The rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall of Netflix is good theater. But it's also an easy way to get burned if you don't time your moves right.
Finally, a quick shout-out to Twitter follower Nathan Gilson. I was tweeting earlier today about strange stock moves in the new shares of Kraft (KRFT) following Kraft's split into two companies. The other has a name that actually makes Qwikster sound good: Mondelez (MDLZ). But I digress. I tweeted the following song lyric and asked my readers to name the tune. "Get crazy with the cheez whiz!"
Nathan was first to correctly ID it as Beck's slacker anthem "Loser." So congratulations! You are not a loser (or un perdedor), baby. Now it's time for me to go back to choking on the splinters.