Netflix Rises On EPS And Intl Sub Beat, In-Line Revenues, And Domestic Subs Miss; Price Increase
With revenues meeting estimates to the dot, and with largely meaningless non-GAAP EPS (because after all NFLX is valued on a 2024 foward basis), Netflix is choppy after hours as algos try to determine what is more important for them:the miss in domestic subs, which rose 2.25 million on expectations of a 2.31 million increase, of the beat in international (and very much money-losing although now expected to be profitable in 2014) subs, which rose 1.75MM vs estimates of 1.64MM.
Perhaps more important was the company's announcement that it is slowly but surely proceeding with price increases:
As expected, we saw limited impact from our January price increase for new members in Ireland (from €6.99 to €7.99), which included grandfathering all existing members at €6.99 for two years. In the U.S. we have greatly improved our content selection since we introduced our streaming plan in 2010 at $7.99 per month. Our current view is to do a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only. Existing members would stay at current pricing (e.g. $7.99 in the U.S.) for a generous time period. These changes will enable us to acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience.
What "generous" means for a period of time, only Janet Yellen knows.
Netflix also commented on the incursion of competitors:
We continue to see more capable Internet television devices launched. Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick, and Amazon Fire TV (on which we expect to support voice search later this year) push the quality of experience and price points for adapter products. Smart TVs from manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, LG and Vizio are starting to evolve from Internet TV as a “bolt-on” to Internet TV as a critical and integrated part of the overall device interface. Roku TV will likely be available in the Fall as one of the first Internet-centric TVs. We expect this trend to continually decrease the friction required for our members to access Netflix and enjoy great content.
In Q1, Amazon changed strategies in the UK and Germany, closing LoveFilm as a streaming brand to compete with Netflix. They have repurposed their content deals to serve Amazon Prime Instant Video in the UK and Germany, and are investing in creating awareness of this new model. Amazon is not currently offering subscription video within Prime in Canada, France, Italy, Spain or Japan. They may choose to expand Prime Instant Video or to focus on tuning their three existing Prime Instant Video markets: U.S., UK and Germany. Since much of the content on Netflix and Amazon Prime (as well as Hulu in the U.S.) is mutually exclusive, many consumers see value in subscribing to all three networks. In general, we continue to believe that our biggest long-term competitor for entertainment time remains the MVPDs improving through TV Everywhere, as they are doing with HBO Go.
As for the topic of Net Neutrality, NFLX is "surprisingly" against the Comcast - TimeWarner merger. Why? It's called leverage:
If the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger is approved, the combined company’s footprint will pass over 60 percent1 of U.S. broadband households, after the proposed divestiture, with most of those homes having Comcast as the only option for truly high-speed broadband (>10Mbps). As DSL fades in favor of cable Internet, Comcast could control high-speed broadband to the majority of American homes. Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix. The combined company would possess even more anticompetitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers. For this reason, Netflix opposes this merger
Finally, on the topic of NFLX's cash flow, well - there is always next quarter... and next year.
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