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TheStreet Open House

Microsoft vs. Netflix

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would be willing to buy a stock like Netflix (NFLX), which is selling for over 37 times current earnings and a jaw-dropping 73 times forward (one-year) earnings.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm one of Netflix's satisfied customers as it's one of the only sources of virtually all great movies that were made in the past 60 years that a person could want to rent.

Even though the stock price has been cut by more than half from its $133.43 52-week high, it still seems expensive to me. Perhaps that's why CEO Reed Hastings doesn't appear to own any shares of his own company's stock.

In fact, none of the leading officers except Chief Products Officer Neil Hunt have much of a stake in the ownership of NFLX. Hunt, as of Jan. 1, owned 74,527 shares, which at today's stock price is valued at around $4,870,339.

In all fairness to Netflix, it does have a remarkable brand name and great loyalty among its faithful users. Having close to 25 million subscribers worldwide is nothing to sneeze at, and its nearest competitor, Amazon.com (AMZN) through its "Amazon Prime" service, has yet to get its act completely together.

Yet, incessant rumors and suggestions persist that NFLX's business is experiencing a slowdown. Its dominance may also be encroached upon by other emerging competitors including Coinstar (CSTR), which gives more reasons for shareholders to sweat with concern.

Amazon has tremendous resources to cash in on Netflix's vulnerability and with enough effort could duplicate what NFLX offers its subscribers. The competition could lower Netflix's revenue and earnings potential.

As of June 30, Netflix reported its year-over-year quarterly earnings had plunged 91%. Added to this is the worrisome reality that its operating margin is a pitiful 5.26% and its profit margin an even lower 2.87%.

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