Netflix Retreats, Analysts Remain Cautious as Earnings Miss Estimate

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Netflix (NFLX)are falling after several research firms reiterated their negative outlook on the stock following the company's second quarter results. 

WHAT'S NEW: Last night, Netflix reported Q2 earnings per share of $1.15, missing the consensus forecast of analysts by 1c, on revenue of $1.15B, which fell short of the $1.33B consensus forecast. The company reported Q2 total streaming net additions of 1.69M, growing its total streaming members to just over 50M. The company guided to Q3 EPS of 89c and revenue of $1.22B, missing the consensus forecasts of $1.06 and $1.38B, respectively. The company said it expects Q3 net additions of 3.69M, to grow its membership to 53.74M.

ANALYST OPINION: After Netflix reported slightly weaker than expected Q2 results and its Q3 guidance came in slightly below expectations, Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald noted that the company indicated that it could lower its 2015 profit margin guidance. Netflix said its margin outlook will depend on the amount it spends on content, Fitzgerald added. The analyst believes that rising content costs pose a risk to the stock. He increased his price target on the shares to $350 from $300 but kept an Underperform rating on the stock. Also staying cautious on Netflix was research firm Bernstein. After Netflix suggested that its domestic margins may not rise as much as previously thought, the firm thinks the statement implies that either the company's subscriber growth could drop significantly or it may need to invest more in content. Additionally, Bernstein believes that the company's strong international guidance was based on the launch of new markets whose early results are difficult to predict. The outlook for the company's domestic subscription growth is still uncertain, but should become clearer in Q4 or the first quarter of 2015, added Bernstein, which kept a $260 price target and Underperform rating on the stock. Meanwhile, Citigroup continued to have an upbeat outlook on the company's fundamentals and its growth outlook, but kept a Neutral rating on the shares due to the stock's valuation.

WHAT'S NOTABLE: A number of firms remained upbeat on Netflix, as Cantor said that the company has several positive catalysts, while JPMorgan called its results solid. Cantor kept a Buy rating on the stock, while JPMorgan reiterated its Overweight rating.

PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Netflix fell $19.78, or 4.3% to $432.17.

Reporting by Larry Ramer.

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