Netflix Drops After Downbeat Notes From Stifel, Citigroup

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Netflix (NFLX) are sinking after two research firms issued cautious notes on the company.

WHAT'S NEW: Netflix was downgraded to Hold from Buy by Scott Devitt, an analyst at Stifel. The reaction to Netflix's Q3 results indicate that investors are still focused on the company's domestic subscriber growth, the analyst stated. Netflix's penetration in the U.S. will continue to increase, but at a slower pace than in previous years, Devitt predicted. Moreover, the company's U.S. business may have started to slow before its international growth can compensate, the analyst warned. As a result, Netflix's subscriber growth may not beat investors' expectations for a period of time, Devitt stated. However, Netflix's longer term outlook remains compelling and the firm said it would become more constructive on shares in the low-$300 range. Meanwhile, Citigroup analyst Mark May wrote that Google data suggests that Netflix's trends have not improved in Q4 compared with Q3. Moreover, it is still unclear if Netflix's domestic subscriber growth has entered a downward trend, May believes. Also unclear is whether the company's results in its new foreign markets have been disappointing and whether it still has pricing power, May wrote. The analyst believes that the stock can rise significantly if the answers to these questions are resolved in Netflix's favor. However, he added that the uncertainties may not be resolved during the current quarter. May kept a Neutral rating on the stock with a $364 price target.

PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Netflix dropped 3% to $345.52.

Reporting by Larry Ramer.

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