Netflix Shares Shrug Off Postal Service Changes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Netflix ( NFLX) rose Monday despite news that cutbacks at the U.S. Postal Service could lengthen first-class delivery times.

Shares of the DVD-by-mail and streaming content company advanced $3.75, or 5.7%, to $70.12, closing above $70 for the first time since Nov. 22.

Netflix is a huge customer for the U.S. Postal Service, spending roughly $600 million annually, according to the Associated Press. The company is emphasizing its streaming business but still counted 13.93 million DVD-by-mail subscribers vs. 21.45 million streaming subscribers at the end of the third quarter.

If the Post Office moves do create consistently longer turnaround times for Netflix customers, it could lead to consumers either dropping the service or switching to streaming subscriptions. This time around, perhaps because Netflix shares are down 60% this year already, investors didn't scramble out of the stock on the news.

Another factor could be that the Postal Service's proposed change for first-class delivery to a 2-to-3 day standard also comes with a caveat: " There would be an opportunity for mailers who properly prepare and enter mail at the destinating processing facility prior to the day's critical entry time to have their mail delivered the following delivery day."

The Postal Service, which officials said needs to reduce operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to return to profitability, estimated the changes proposed on Monday would generate annual savings of $2.1 billion. The changes include the possible closure of 252 of the Postal Service's 487 mail processing facilities.

Netflix is facing widespread skepticism on Wall Street with 28 of the 34 analysts covering the stock at either hold (19), underperform (6) or sell (3). The current consensus estimate is for the company to report a profit of 57 cents a share in its fiscal fourth quarter ending in December on revenue of $858.6 million.

Also, a poll of TheStreet readers named Netflix CEO Reed Hastings the worst CEO in the tech sector for 2011, pointing to the company's decision to embark on a drastic price increase and the indecision shown with a botched announcement to change the name of the DVD-by-mail business, along with the beaten-down share price, as reasons for the dissatisfaction with Hastings.

On Nov. 22, Netflix said in a regulatory filing that it expects to report a net loss for the whole of 2012 as it ramps up spending to support its international expansion, specifically building up its presence in the United Kingdom.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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