Updated from 4:36 p.m. Netflix ( NFLX) plunged 19% in late trading Monday as the online movie-rental service posted a soft top-line performance and guided to more of the same. The Los Gatos, Calif. company made $16.8 million, or 24 cents per share, for the quarter ended June 30. That compared to net income of $5.7 million, or 9 cents per share, for the second quarter of 2005. Revenue during the quarter was $239.4 million, a 46% rise from the year-before period. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for Netflix to earn 18 cents per share on $242.5 million in revenue. Net subscriber additions in the quarter were 303,000 compared to 178,000 for the same period last year. But that was down from the 687,000 net new adds in the first quarter. Still, the company now boasts 5.2 million subs. "In the second quarter, Netflix demonstrated solid progress toward our goals of 20 million subscribers by 2010 to 2012 and 50% year-over-year earnings growth for the next several years," said Chief Executive Reed Hastings. "Our industry-leading customer service and selection attracted new subscribers at an increasing rate and we achieved 62% year-over-year subscriber growth despite a modest seasonal uptick in churn." Churn, measuring quarterly customer departures, rose to 4.3% in the second quarter from 4.1% in the first quarter, though the latest quarter was down from 4.7% a year ago. Churn includes free subscribers as well as paying subscribers who elect not to renew their monthly subscription service during the quarter. On the company's earnings conference call, Netflix co-founder Hastings cited "seasonality" and related to "the onset of glorious summer." The second metric Hastings pointed to was an increase in subscriber acquisition costs during the period. Subscriber acquisition cost rose to $43.95 per gross subscriber addition from $38.13 a year ago and $38.47 for the first quarter. Hastings blamed marketing spending as the company does ongoing battle with movie rental competitor Blockbuster ( BBI). The company said it expects subscribers to reach between 5.5 million and 5.7 million during the third quarter. Netflix expects to post revenue of between $249 million and $254 million, short of the $258 million Thomson forecast. Similarly, Netflix expects revenue of $980 million for the year, short of the $1 billion Wall Street target.
Netflix, which currently offers some 60,000 movie and TV titles, last week said it has partnered with GE's ( GE) NBC, adding premieres of two new shows to its catalogue ahead of their broadcast dates. West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Kidnapped an abduction drama, will be sold through the service in a special promotional effort. Shares dropped $4.66 late Monday to $19.10.