Netflix subscriber slip hints at ‘lumpy’ road ahead for streaming giant

The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California on July 16, 2018. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Updated 17 July 2018
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Netflix subscriber slip hints at ‘lumpy’ road ahead for streaming giant

  • Shares of Netflix fell 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported a surprise shortfall in subscriber additions
  • While Wall Street remains overwhelmingly positive on Netflix and its role in video streaming globally, the numbers did raise question marks over future growth

CALIFORNIA: Shares of Netflix fell 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported a surprise shortfall in subscriber additions for a second quarter marked by the lack of a blockbuster new show and the FIFA World Cup.
While Wall Street remains overwhelmingly positive on Netflix and its role in video streaming globally, the numbers did raise question marks over future growth and six brokerages cut their price targets on the company’s shares.
“The quarter is a reminder that Netflix’s cadence of net adds is not linear, but lumpy in nature,” said Justin Patterson, an analyst with Raymond James and Associates in San Francisco, while pointing to the absence of a new hit series as a driver.
“The company had lots of new content during the quarter; what it did not have was a major new breakout series.”
Riding on the success of its original shows such as “13 Reasons Why,” “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” Netflix had beaten subscriber growth expectations in seven out of last 10 quarters.
That has driven a doubling of its share price in the last year, raising its value to within sight of $200 billion as of Monday’s close.
What is not clear is where the hurdles to that unbroken run of growth will come from, be it stronger competition from Amazon Prime or the changes in control of major film and TV franchises heralded by Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp’s bid for Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. .
Netflix added 5.15 million customers from April through June, 1 million fewer than forecasts from Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S and down from 7.41 million in the first quarter.
“While subscriber weakness is obviously an issue, the company’s inability to explain it satisfactorily could weigh on the stock over the coming quarter,” Barclays analysts said.
Still, there was only one outright cut in a trading recommendation on the stock — by Deutsche Bank to hold from buy — and two others actually upped their recommendations. At least three raised their price targets.
“Netflix has faced hurdles before and this Q2 report won’t be the last,” PiperJaffray analyst Michael Olson wrote.
“The long term potential is too great for us to suggest anything other than buying (the shares),” he added, listing a just 15 percent share of Internet households outside China as a huge potential market.
Olson and several others pointed to the World Cup as a possible distraction in the quarter that might have encouraged subscribers to hold off or freeze subscriptions for a month.
The 2018 soccer tournament that is among the most-watched TV events started on June 14 and has just finished.
“Netflix is in a business that varies by quarter anyway and perhaps the company shouldn’t have gotten too enamored with the crazy success of the last two quarters which was invigorating but not sustainable,” Forrester analyst James McQuivey said.


Iranian women protest US arrest of state TV journalist

Updated 20 January 2019
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Iranian women protest US arrest of state TV journalist

  • The journalist’s family and friends say she was arrested in Louis Lambert International Airport on Jan. 13
  • Iran’s Foreign Minister says the arrest stands in the way of free speech

TEHRAN: Dozens of women staged a protest in in Tehran on Sunday calling for the release of an Iranian state TV journalist arrested in the United States.
The demonstrators waved pictures of Marzieh Hashemi at the rally in front of the Swiss Embassy which handles US interests in the Islamic republic.
US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran’s English-language Press TV, was held on arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.
Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.
A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony is required over an unspecified case but that she is not accused of a crime.
At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.
It said that Hashemi was arrested on “a material arrest warrant” and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified “violations of US criminal law.”
The protesters in Tehran, including students and female members of the paramilitary Basij militia, shouted slogans such as “we are all Marzieh” and carried posters with the hashtag #FreeMarziehHashemi.
“We demand that she is immediately released and returned to her family in full health,” demonstrator Minaeepour told AFP.
Iran’s FM Javad Zarif on Thursday described the detention as a “political action” by the United States that “tramples on freedom of speech” and demanded she be set free.
Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and “it is our duty to defend our citizens.”