NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Let the games begin.
Investors will be looking for clues from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and team to see whether there's been a noticeable impact from HBO's new service when the streaming giant reports earnings on Wednesday. HBO Now is currently available only on Apple (AAPL - Get Report) devices; Cablevision (CVC) has also partnered with HBO to bring the service to its customers.
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves called HBO Now's launch "a modest risk" to Netflix's second-quarter subscriber growth. But he noted Netflix's original programming in the second quarter, which included House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Bloodline, would offset this. Daredevil, which the company produced in conjunction with Walt Disney's (DIS) Marvel unit, became available to Netflix's subscribers this past weekend.
Netflix is in the midst of a global expansion, which it previously said would be completed by 2016. The company ended 2014 with slightly more than 58 million subscribers, though that pales in comparison to the 114 million subcribers HBO has globally.
When Netflix reported fourth-quarter results, the company said it expected to add 4.05 million subscribers, with 1.8 million of that coming domestically and 2.25 million internationally. Netflix forecast earnings of 60 cents a share on $1.398 billion in revenue. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for earnings of 69 cents a share on $1.57 billion in revenue.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, Netflix's international streaming segment resulted in a loss of $78.6 million, compared with a profit of $256.8 million for the domestic streaming segment. The company hopes to be profitable internationally in 2017. This is increasingly important as the company's domestic growth starts to slow. In the fourth quarter of 2013, Netflix added 2.33 million subscribers, compared to 1.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. In the first quarter of 2014, Netflix added 2.25 million domestic subscribers.
"For us it was very encouraging that what the world really wants is high quality, great production values, great story telling, and that can be truly universal," Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said during the fourth-quarter earnings call. "It might be that there are some cultural barriers to U.S. content as we get into more exotic markets, but my guess is that we're going to continue to see our original programming travel and carry the Netflix brand around the world."
In the first quarter, Netflix launched in Australia and New Zealand. It's is currently available in 50 countries, and by the end of 2016 the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company plans to be available in 200.
TheStreet's Jim Cramer says that Netflix is extraordinarily undervalued, with a market cap of just $28 billion.
"Netflix is an institution," Cramer wrote. "A worldwide one. It should be valued accordingly. One day it will be. Not this week. Maybe not this month. But one day. And that's why any decline is a gift for those who have failed to get in to date."
Netflix is in the process of seeking authorization from investors to increase the number of shares outstanding, to 5 billion, up from 170 million currently.
Here's what analysts are saying going into the quarter:
SunTrust analyst Bob Peck (Neutral, $480 Price Target)
"Our proprietary checks are pointing to Int'l sub upside in the quarter and we expect investors to look beyond F/X and interest expense related noise. However, we are maintaining our Neutral opinion given the recent surge in the stock and what we perceive to be highly elevated sentiment/expectations into the 1Q report."
Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves (Outperform, $500 PT)
"We expect Q1 net sub adds to meet or exceed the domestic target of 1.80 million and the international target of 2.25 million. Meeting U.S. streaming expectations remains critical, in our view, as it provides a measure of valuation support during Netflix's global expansion. For Q2, we expect Netflix to target approximately 350,000 domestic net sub adds and approximately 1.15 million international net sub adds, which would reflect normal seasonality. The launch of HBO Now (with a free one-month trial in time for Game of Thrones) represents a modest risk to Q2 sub growth, but we expect the strong rollout of original programming this spring (House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline, Daredevil) to offset this."
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Youssef Squali (Buy, $500 PT)
"Original series House of Cards s3 launched on 2/27/15, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt launched on 3/6/15, Bloodline launched on 3/20/15, Marvel's Daredevil launched on 4/10/15, Orange is the New Black s3 will follow shortly thereafter in July 2015, and Netflix' first original film, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Green Legend will debut day-and-date on Netflix (along with IMAX theaters) on 8/28/15. We've historically seen positive correlation between the launch of new big titles and subscriber growth performance, which bodes well for subscriber growth in 2015."
Canaccord Genuity analyst Gregory Miller (Buy, $530 PT)
"Given management's accelerated global rollout plan, we believe financial performance expectations over the near term have become less impactful to the stock. Rather, the timing and success of new market launches - i.e., international net adds - now become the primary driver, in our view. Despite our estimate reduction, our long-term thesis is unchanged: we continue to believe Netflix is in an advantageous position to leverage its first-mover advantage in the OTT market to become the preeminent global player in the developing sector. As such, we reiterate our BUY rating and raise our target, which is now derived solely from our DCF model due to the pressure on near-term financials from international launches, to $530."