But Netflix stunned investors by reporting a profit of 13 cents a share on revenue of $945 million. In the year-earlier quarter, the company reported EPS of 64 cents. As impressive as this was, the most noteworthy aspect was the company's incredible cost management, including a 12% decline in general administrative expenses. Marketing expenses grew slightly, by 2.7%, and technology costs were up 1.7%. As noted, expenses have been a huge point of contention for bears, especially because profits dropped 90% in the third quarter due to heavy international expansion.
As I was watching, I had forgotten that I was on Netflix and not HBO or Showtime. In the long term, if Netflix is able to produce such original hits, this will benefit investors and lessen Netflix's dependency on outside content, many of which takes a meaningful chuck of its profits. In other words, House of Cards just might have been the foundation for a mansion. And this has not gone unnoticed from rivals. For instance, according to CBSnews.com, Apple ( AAPL), which has its own streaming ambitions, is reportedly in talks with HBO to bring HBOGo to Apple TV. But will this be enough? As I've written recently, the biggest game-changer for Apple would be to acquire Netflix -- especially now since Netflix has proven capable of delivering original material. For that matter, Netflix's library is already much bigger than what HBO can offer Apple. And it would only cost Apple 8% of its $137 billion in cash. What's more, that Netflix just recently signed a content sharing deal with Disney ( DIS) makes this a deal that Apple can't pass up -- not if it really cares about beating Google ( GOOG) in tech and in television. Plus, the lure of Disney offers Apple extra leverage to grow its iTunes business as it will allow subscribers to also stream movies from Disney subsidiaries such as Pixar and Marvel.
In the meantime, investors have to be impressed with this new Netflix and this incredible growth. Though Netflix has been criticized for its "grow at all cost mentality", the company has instead believed "if we build it, they will come." Although many didn't believe in Netflix's infrastructure builds, but this has worked perfectly. Today it's a House of Cards. In time, investors might be in mansions. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and held no position in any of the other stocks mentioned. Follow @rsaintvilus This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.