Moments ago Netflix reported Q2 Revenue and EPS which were precisely in line with Wall Street estimates, at $1.34 billion and $1.15 EPS. None of this mattered, because just like Amazon, nobody cares about where NFLX is now, everyone is much more focused on where it will be at some indefinite point in the future, with an emphasis on what many believe is virtually unlimited subscriber growth both in the US, but primarily, in the international market. Here is what NFLX reported to its subs growth.
- Paid Domestic Subscribers rose to 35.085 million. The sequential increase of 708K was the smallest since Q2 2012. The Y/Y increase of 22.6%, likewise, was the weakest since 2012. Total streaming adds increased by 570K, just above the expected 540 increase. What's more troubling is that NFLX predicted that Q3 total domestic streaming adds will increase by 1.33 million, below the Wall Street estimate of 1.4 million.
- Paid International Subscribers was the silver lining: it was here that NFLX reported that total subs rose to 13.8 million, an increase of 1.118 million, above the 0.97 million expected. And improving the international trend, NFLX hopes that in Q3 international subscribers will rise by a whopping 2.36 million, far above the 1.74 million expected.
So far so good. The problem, as those who tend to short the stock now and then know all too well, is that a major portion of the company's profit is generated by the doomed DVD business. In Q2 this generated a profit of $92.8 million, however don't expect this to last as the decline curve here is dramatic as any other typical runoff business usually is: indeed, it was $16 million less than a year ago and declining fast.
As for the contribution profit of the company's fastest growing segment, international subs, it once again was a net drain of cash, soaking up some $15.3 million in Q2, which was the smallest negative cash burn since Q2 2011... but was still a cash burn.
The hope, of course, is that sooner or later the International business will become breakeven and generate incremental profits. So far, it hasn't. This is what NFLX had to say about international growth:
Our international contribution loss of ($15.3) million has been rapidly approaching contribution profitability as we see improvements across all existing markets. Our broad success from Argentina to Finland has convinced us to further invest aggressively in global expansion. Our European expansion this quarter will add new expenses to the segment, so we expect a consolidated contribution loss of ($42) million for the international segment in Q3. Even after our upcoming expansion in Europe, we’ll only address about one-third (271 million of 728 million ) of current global broadband households, providing a great opportunity to build on our international success beyond 2014. As explained in our Long Term Letter, our plan remains to run at about global break-even to fund investment in global expansion.
Putting it all together, here is how much cash NFLX has generated in every quarter for the past three years.
In brief, in Q2, NFLX generated some $16.3 million in total cash, which however would have been substantially negative had it not been for the runoff DVD business.
So will international subs continue growing at a pace that will offset the tapering growth of domestics and certainly offset the declining contribution of the melting DVD ice cube?
That's folks continues to be the 64k question. Or rather 710x question, because that, on an LTM basis, is what what is NFLX EV/Free Cash Flow is (and we use the simple EV calculation, ignoring all the billions in off balance sheet liabilities, which would make this number well over 1,000x.
Finally, those wondering what original content is down the NFLX pipeline, here is the full story:
Earlier this month, Netflix original series and documentaries received 31 Emmy nominations, more than double the 14 we received in our first year of releasing original programming. In its first year of eligibility, Orange received 12 nominations, more than any other comedy series, while nominations for House of Cards grew from 9 last year to 13 this year. Notably, these two shows were nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Drama Series while The Square, which received 4 nominations, is up for Outstanding Documentary. It is quite rare for a single network to receive nominations in all three of these categories as well as Outstanding Lead Actor and Outstanding Lead Actress for both drama (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright for House of Cards) and comedy (Ricky Gervais for Derek and Taylor Schilling for Orange.)
Hemlock Grove debuted July 11 and has already begun to build on its Season 1 audience. We have been very pleased with the second season of Derek that launched in May and with the launch of our latest original documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball.
In the coming weeks, we will premiere the all new 4th and final season of The Killing (8/1) and a new adult animated comedy BoJack Horseman (8/22). Also in August, we will release Mission Blue (8/15) from the Oscar-winning director of The Cove, Fisher Stevens.
Reflecting the increasingly global nature of the Netflix service, we now have original series in production around the world, involving some of the best storytellers working in television and film today. Marco Polo, a historical adventure from Executive Producer Harvey Weinstein, is shooting in Kazakhstan and Malaysia. In New York there is Marvel’s Daredevil, the first of our original series from Marvel Television, as well as the already eagerly-anticipated third season of Orange is the New Black; while in Baltimore, production is underway on the third season of House of Cards. In the Florida Keys, the creators of Damages (Glenn Kessler, Daniel Zelman, and Todd Kessler) are shooting a dark family thriller with an ensemble cast led by Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Linda Cardellini, Ben Mendelsohn, and Norbert Leo Butz. Sense8, a mind-bending series from the Wachowskis (The Matrix trilogy, Cloud Atlas) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), began production in San Francisco last month, is now in Chicago, and will shoot in many international locations this year.
In August, production begins in Los Angeles on Grace and Frankie, a comedy led by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston; and in Colombia, Brazilian director José Padilha (Elite Squad, Robocop) will begin filming Narcos with an all-star international cast led by Wagner Moura.
During the quarter, we announced our first-ever talk show, hosted by Chelsea Handler, the popular comedian and best-selling author. As with scripted programming, but unlike news or sports, fewer people are watching talk shows live and are instead watching stacked episodes on DVR or online in the days and weeks following initial airing. Our intent is to produce a show with Handler and her team that reflects this shift to on-demand enjoyment and that will appeal to a global audience. Handler recently taped her first special for Netflix -- a stand-up show that’s been sold out across the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland -- and will produce four more in 2015 before we launch the talk show in early 2016.
Finally good luck with the whole "Net Neutrality" thing. Ironically, the bigger NFLX gets, the more likely the distributors will collude to squeeze every last drop of cash from the company.