In October, Deutsche Bank's Bryan Kraft posted a sell rating and a $90-per-share price target on the video streaming company. Although Kraft initially praised Netflix's business model as over the long term, at the time he believed that the consensus Wall Street expectations for the stock were "overly optimistic" through 2020. Kraft projected higher expenses for 2017 and lower revenue for 2018-2020.
However, now the analyst has changed his opinion. On Friday, Kraft penned a note to investors giving Netflix a hold rating with a price target of $110 per share.
The driver for this more bullish outlook is the impact that Kraft sees on Netflix's investment into content on international growth. He expects new international subscriptions to grow to 4.35 million during the fourth quarter, higher than the company's forecast of 3.35 million. For entire fiscal 2017, he has raised his expectation for "Paid Net Adds" to 14.9 million, from his October projection of 11.5 million. Kraft now forecasts that the company's international paid subscriber number will hit 71 million by the end of 2018.
Netflix is a great entertainment play for investors. It transformed itself from a DVD-rental-by-mail company into a video-streaming pioneer that still dominates a market in which behemoths Amazon, Alphabet, and Apple fight to catch up.
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However, Netflix is currently metamorphosing into an entertainment studio. Thanks to hit shows such as House of Cards and Stranger Things, Netflix has proven that its expensive investments into content creation can pay off.
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Toward the end of 2016, rumors that Netflix might be purchased by WaltDisney were spreading, bolstering its stock. While this would be nice, were it to happen, Netflix isn't a weak profit-maker like Pandora that needs a deal to survive. The company met or beat earnings expectations for the last few quarters and exceeded its own target for new subscriber additions.
There's still plenty of growth for Netflix's stock as the company expands its customer base globally. By entering new markets in 2017, the company should boost its profits and reward its investors. Watch this slow-burning profit machine. Grab shares on any dips and hold on for the long term.
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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.