Netflix Inc. (NFLX - Get Report) shares traded higher Wednesday even after the online streaming service said current quarter subscriber additions would likely miss Wall Street forecasts as a recent price increase works its way through markets around the world.
Netflix said it expects to add around 5 million people to its online service over the three months ending in June, compared to a Street forecast of 5.5 million, after hitting a record 148.86 million global subscribers over the first quarter with a stronger-than-expected 7.86 million gain. Netflix, however, said additions would improve over the back half of the year, challenging the notion that new market entrants such was Walt Disney Co. (DIS - Get Report) , which unveiled a competitor service last week, would eat into its subscriber growth rates.
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"We're working our way through a series of price increases in the US, Brazil, Mexico and parts of Europe," the company said in a letter to shareholders. "The response in the US so far is as we expected and is tracking similarly to what we saw in Canada following our Q4'18 increase, where our gross additions are unaffected, and we see some modest short-term churn effect as members consent to the price change."
"We're looking forward to a strong slate of global content in the second half of the year, including new seasons of some of our biggest series, Stranger Things (July 4th), 13 Reasons Why, Orange is the New Black, The Crown and La Casa de Papel (aka Money Heist) as well as big films like Michael Bay's Six Underground and Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, and expect another year of record annual paid net adds in 2019," the letter added.
Netflix shares were marked 1.5% higher at $362.56 each in early Wednesday trading, a move that would leave the stock with a year-to-date gain of around 38%.
The company reported first quarter revenue of $4.5 billion, a record for the company, yielding earnings of 76 cents per share. While revenue was in line with expectations, the company's earnings easily topped Wall Street's expectations of 58 cents per share.
Netflix said earlier this year its base plan price would rise $3 to $13 per month in the United States, starting in March, with international increases expected over the course of 2019.
"Overall, while not the net add beat many were hoping for, we believe outlook commentary was quite bullish, especially record 1H paid net additions in the face of record price increases, revenue growth accelerating the next few quarters, and a very strong 2H content slate," said Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson. "Investor consternation will now shift from price increase churn to competition, but Disney+ concerns are misplaced, in our view."
Netflix said it doesn't expect that new entrants will "materially affect our growth because the transition from linear to on-demand entertainment is so massive and because of the different nature of our content offerings".
Others, including Loop Capital's Alan Gould, think the Disney+ launch, which is expected in November, will actually help Netflix's numbers by accelerating cable cord-cutting and driving those customers to a-la-carter services.