Netflix crossed a fun milestone today, crossing the $100 billion mark for its market cap as it once again surprised industry observers with better-than-expected growth in its subscribers.
We’ll get to the financial numbers in a minute but, as usual, the big story here is that it continues to wow Wall Street with impressive growth in its subscriber numbers. The company said it added more than 8 million new subscribers total after already setting pretty robust targets for the fourth quarter this year, giving it a healthy push as it crossed the $100 billion mark after the report came out this afternoon.
Here’s the rundown:
Netflix’s biggest challenge has been to aggressively invest in good original content that’s going to bring in new subscribers. While its shows may clean up at various awards shows like the Emmys, it still has to show that it can convert those awards into raw subscribers. But thanks to what appears to be continuing success with its original content like Stranger Things, as well other returning seasons for shows like The Crown, it’s been able to continue its staggering run.
While the company’s core financials actually came in roughly in line with what Wall Street was looking for (which is still important), Netflix’s subscriber numbers are usually the best indicator for the core health of the company. That recurring revenue stream — and its growth — is critical as it continues to very aggressively spend on new content. The company said its free cash flow will be between negative $3 billion and negative $4 billion, compared to negative $2 billion this year.
And that aggressive spend only seems to get more aggressive every time we hear from the company. Netflix is now saying that it expects to spend between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on content in 2018 — which is around in line with what it said in October when it said it would spend between $7 billion and $8 billion. It’s the same range, but tuning up that bottom end is still an important indicator.
Netflix shows picked up 20 Emmy awards last year, but just having a shiny object on a shelf isn’t something that’s going to indicate that the company is going to continue to grow at a healthy clip. In the face of an increasingly crowded market, Netflix has to demonstrate its ability to continue to offer lasting value for subscribers — especially as it continues to grow abroad. The company, of course, has plenty of benefits in terms of how it handles its shows when it makes them itself.
The company also has to make sure its brand also fits that narrative, as it now finds itself dealing with issues like having to cancel House of Cards — and that has a monetary impact as well. Netflix said it took a $39 million “non-cash charge in Q4 for unreleased content we’ve decided not to move forward with.” The company didn’t specify what content, but it’s dealt with some issues in the past several months that might necessitate the need to recalibrate its slate.
Netflix also tucked another newsy bit into the report: the addition of new board member Rodolphe Belmer, former CEO of Canal+. As the company continues to expand internationally, bringing on people with experience like Belmer of course makes sense.
Here’s the final slash line for the company’s report today:
- Revenue: $3.29 billion, compared to $3.28 billion estimates from Wall Street
- Earnings: 41 cents per share, in line with estimates from Wall Street
- Q4 US subscriber additions: 1.98 million
- Q4 International subscriber additions: 6.36 million
- Q1 forecast US additions: 1.45 million
- Q1 forecast international additions: 4.90 million
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