By Tracey Ryniec
Value investors hate it but momentum traders love it.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) just did it again, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the 12th quarter in a row. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to see triple digit earnings growth in 2013 and 2014.
Netflix calls itself an "Internet television network." Once known as a service that delivered DVDs to mailboxes it now offers streaming television and movie content to 40 million members in 41 countries.
Netflix Beat by 8.3% in the Third Quarter
On Oct 21, Netflix reported its third quarter results and kept its impressive earnings streak alive by beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by $0.04.
Earnings were $0.52 compared to the consensus of $0.48.
The company hasn't missed on earnings since 2010 and only has 1 miss in the last 5 years.
In the U.S., subscriber net additions rose 1.3 million to 31.09 million members, up 11% from the third quarter of the prior year. The company got buzz from its new Orange is the New Black series and its Emmy win for the House of Cards series.
But it's still the regular television shows that are driving viewing. The largest percentage of viewing is from the exclusive complete season-after series it offers such as Breaking Bad, Walking Dead and Scandal.
Internationally, subscriber net additions gained 1.4 million to 9.19 million members. The number was boosted by entry into the Nordic market and the Netherlands. Additionally, there was a surge in low quality free trails from Latin America in September, which should just temporarily boost the number.
Some people may mock those who still use DVDs, but Netflix reported that 7.15 million households in the U.S. still get the DVDs. This segment is still generating considerable revenue and profit.
Netflix isn't backing away from original content. In 2014, it expects to double its investment in original content, but even while doing that, it will represent less than 10% of overall global content expense.
All you have to do is look at the chart to see just how volatile Netflix shares have been over the past few years.
In its most recent letter to shareholders, Netflix addressed the stock volatility and acknowledged that this year, things had gotten a little crazy:
"In calendar year 2003 we were the highest performing stock on Nasdaq. We had solid results compounded by momentum-investor-fueled euphoria. Some of the euphoria today feels like 2003."
"Despite the huge swings in our stock price since our 2002 IPO ($8 to $3 to $39 to $8 to $300 to $55 to $330), we've continued to grow our membership every year fairly steadily. We do our best to ignore the volatility in our stock. The progress we've made over the last 10 years is stunning. We want to make the next 10 years even more remarkable."
Shares have since pulled back from all-time highs.
Expensive But There's Growth
Even with the pullback, it's clearly not a stock for value investors or others concerned with fundamentals. It trades with a forward P/E of 197.
Its price-to-book ratio is 17.6, well above the average for the S&P 500 of 2.9. Its price-to-sales ratio is 4.8, also high compared to the S&P 500 average of 2.3.
But the earnings growth is there. 11 analysts raised estimates on 2013 since the earnings report, which pushed the Zacks Consensus Estimate up to $1.68 from $1.56. That is earnings growth of 477% as the company only made $0.29 in 2012.
2014 is expected to see more of the same. 18 estimates have been adjusted higher in the last week. That has pushed the Zacks Consensus up to $4.06 from $3.36 in that time. That is expected earnings growth of 142%.
Investors in Netflix have to be prepared for both the good and the bad. It is growing aggressively but shares can be extremely volatile. But if you're up for the challenge, then Netflix is one growth company you want to keep on your short list.