Those hoping that Netflix (NFLX) would deliver the kind of blowout subscriber figures it posted in January and October are likely disappointed by the streaming giant's subdued first-quarter figures. All the same, after taking into account the company's healthy second-quarter outlook, Netflix's latest earnings report did little to spark fears that the competition and/or high penetration rates have done much to slow its momentum.
And as it has done in prior quarters, the company's fairly candid management team shared some numbers and commentary that provide fresh reasons to remain upbeat about how Netflix's core service is evolving and what the company is doing to grow its appeal.
With the help of both subscriber growth and last year's price hikes, Netflix reported Q1 revenue of $2.64 billion (up 35% annually) and EPS of $0.40 (up from $0.06 a year ago). The former was in line, while the latter topped a $0.37 consensus analyst estimate.
Some 1.4 million U.S. and 3.5 million international streaming subscribers were added, bringing Netflix's total bases to 50.9 million and 47.9 million, respectively. Those numbers fell slightly short of guidance for 1.5 million U.S. and 3.7 million international streaming adds.
But Netflix also forecast it would respectively add 600,000 U.S. and 2.6 million international subs next quarter, better than consensus estimates for 373,000 and 2.17 million adds. On the flip side, EPS guidance of $0.15 is below a $0.24 consensus. Revenue guidance of $2.76 billion (up 31% annually) is roughly in-line.
After initially slipping in response to the numbers, shares finished after-hours trading up 1.4% to $149.35, making new highs along the way. They rose 3% in regular trading on Monday going into earnings. In pre-market trading on Tuesday, shares were up 0.7%.
Netflix argues both its Q1 results and Q2 guidance differed from expectations due to the delayed release of Season 5 of House of Cards, and to a lesser extent other "content moves." These events depressed Q1 subscriber adds while boosting the bottom line, and are expected to do the opposite in Q2. "We have come to see these quarterly variances as mostly noise in the long-term growth trend and adoption of internet TV," the company insists.
This trend, along with the company's execution, has Netflix now handling over one billion hours of weekly viewing, CEO Reed Hastings disclosed on this earnings call. Though this figure implies about 10 hours of viewing for each of Netflix's 100 million global subscribers, Hastings notes it's still far less than the billion hours of daily viewing that Alphabet/Google's (GOOGL) YouTube now gets. "We definitely have YouTube envy," Hastings declared.
TheStreet's Eric Jhonsa and Leon Lazaroff previously covered Netflix's earnings through a live blog.