"We believe the momentum could start to turn more positive with the release of The Irishman on NFLX just hours away, representing NFLX's biggest-ever film investment," wrote JPMorgan's Douglas Anmuth in a note out Tuesday evening.
Netflix shares have underperformed the broader U.S. market in 2019, posting a gain so far of 17% against the S&P 500's gain of 25%. Netflix badly missed net subscriber additions in the second quarter and management noted that emerging streaming competition was partially to blame.
Meanwhile, Disney (DIS) - Get Report recently launched Disney Plus for just $6.99 per month, far below Netflix's standard plan, and is seeing sign-ups of a million subscribers per day, according to one source. And Apple (AAPL) - Get Report just released Apple TV Plus at $4.99 per month, with other streaming competitors such as HBO Max still to come. But Netflix bulls say the company currently has far more content than most other players and so should remain a dominant player in the space. Plus, many had said throughout the year that Netflix's content slate would be strong for the second half of 2019.
Anmuth wrote that "heading into the quarter, we viewed NFLX's 4Q content as perhaps its best ever, driven by a strong film slate." He noted new productions such as El Camino: a Breaking Bad Movie, The Laundromat and the third season of The Crown could play a considerable role in driving subscribers growth. Anmuth said 26 million Netflix accounts have watched El Camino .
As for the Irishman, which debuted on the service on Wednesday after spending several weeks in movie theaters, Anmuth wrote that "we believe Netflix could provide an early viewing metric over the next week, which in our view could be the next catalyst."
Analysts polled by FactSet are looking for total paid net subscriber additions in the fourth quarter of 7.8 million, which would be a 13% decrease from 2018's fourth quarter.
After having fallen as much as 32% after it second quarter blunder, Netflix shares have recovered as investors have regained some confidence in subscriber growth.
Anmuth even thinks the competition may be a tailwind to Netflix, writing that "we believe more streaming options will ultimately accelerate the shift away from linear TV, benefitting NFLX."