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Netflix Could Crash -- Hard -- Next Week

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The article I published Friday on Best Buy (BBY - Get Report) got me thinking about a Netflix (NFLX - Get Report) question more than a few people have asked me over the last few weeks.

Where has Netflix management been?

We have become so accustomed to seeing Netflix spewing news the media just can't wait to regurgitate with the guy who Reed Hastings has expertly set up to take the fall -- Ted "Sure You Can Call Me Hollywood" Sarandos -- out in front.

But they've been relatively quiet of late. Maybe Sarandos is busy decorating the multi-million dollar beach house he bought in Malibu.

Or maybe it's something else all together.

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The BBY piece got me thinking because, intuitively, it led me to give Reed Hastings some credit for admitting something Wall Street analysts lack the guts or conscience to do:

In calendar year 2003 we were the highest performing stock on Nasdaq. We had solid results compounded by momentum-investor-fueled euphoria. Some of the euphoria today feels like 2003.
Despite the huge swings in our stock price since our 2002 IPO ($8 to $3 to $39 to $8 to $300 to $55 to $330), weve continued to grow our membership every year fairly steadily. We do our best to ignore the volatility in our stock. The progress weve made over the last 10 years is stunning. We want to make the next 10 years even more remarkable.

That's Hastings (and Netflix CFO David Wells) in the company's Q3 letter to shareholders.

On the surface, that sounds admirable. And precisely what I am asking of Wall Street guys on Best Buy. However, I have come to learn that Reed Hastings rarely does anything without an ulterior motive.

Netflix reports Q4 earnings on Wednesday. It, as of the Q3 report, expects just over two million net subscriber additions. It lives and dies by this number. And, while I have never been too keen on timing Netflix-related predictions, I'm pretty confident the company's coming under pressure with respect to subscribers. If not this quarter, soon.

If this is the quarter where they miss bad, it explains both Hastings' discussion about momentum in the Q3 letter (try to anticipate and cushion the crash) and the company's relative absence from the media over the last few weeks, not to mention the tweaking they did to their price structure around the turn of the new year.

I have written enough about why I am bearish Netflix the company (see quite the scroll of previous articles here) that I don't feel the need to get into details. But I did find it appropriate to note that this could be the quarter that starts to, in no uncertain terms, expose Netflix for what it is.

Because I do reckon this is the year, the media as well as investors start recognizing quality in the space, not hype.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks. Rocco Pendola is a columnist for TheStreet. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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