Highlight: Gloomy Netflix forecast erases much of stock's pandemic gains - Reuters
LOS ANGELES (Jan 21): Netflix Inc dashed hopes for a quick rebound after forecasting weak first-quarter subscriber growth on Thursday (Jan 20), sending its shares sinking nearly 20% and wiping away most of its remaining Covid-19 pandemic-fuelled gains from 2020.The world's largest streaming service projected it would add 2.5 million customers from January through March, less than half of the 5.9 million analysts had forecast, according to Refinitiv IBES data.Netflix tempered its growth expectations, citing the late arrival of anticipated
The Witcher. Industry analysts had projected 8.4 million.The company's global subscriber total at the end of 2021 reached 221.8 million.In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it believes the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and economic hardships in several parts of the world like Latin America may have kept subscriber growth from rebounding to levels seen before the pandemic.
Covid-19"created a lot of bumpiness" that made it hard to project subscriber numbers,"but all the fundamentals of the business are pretty solid", co-chief executive officer Ted Sarandos said in a post-earnings video interview.The company posted adjusted earnings per share of US$1.33, crushing analyst consensus estimates of 82 cents. Revenue hit US$7.71 billion, in line with estimates.Read more: The Edge Malaysia »
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as well as a new season of The Witcher . Industry analysts had projected 8.4 million. The company's global subscriber total at the end of 2021 reached 221.8 million. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said it believes the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and economic hardships in several parts of the world like Latin America may have kept subscriber growth from rebounding to levels seen before the pandemic. Covid-19"created a lot of bumpiness" that made it hard to project subscriber numbers,"but all the fundamentals of the business are pretty solid", co-chief executive officer Ted Sarandos said in a post-earnings video interview. The company posted adjusted earnings per share of US$1.33, crushing analyst consensus estimates of 82 cents. Revenue hit US$7.71 billion, in line with estimates. Netflix last week raised prices in its biggest market, the US and Canada, where analysts said growth is stagnating and that it is now looking for growth overseas. The company rode a roller coaster during the pandemic, with steep growth early in 2020 when people were staying home and movie theatres were closed, followed by a slowdown in 2021. Netflix picked up more than 36 million customers in 2020 and 18.2 million in 2021. Netflix's subscriber growth in 2022 was previously expected to stabilise and return to the pace logged before the pandemic, when it added 27.9 million subscribers in 2019, analysts said. The company's upcoming slate includes new instalments of Ozark and Stranger Things and a three-part Kanye West documentary."The pandemic lockdowns pulled forward tons of demand and it is taking longer than expected to normalise," said Pivotal Research analyst Jeff Wlodarczak. Competitors including Disney and AT&T Inc's HBO Max are pouring billions into creating new programming to grab a share of the streaming market. Netflix said competition"may be affecting our marginal growth some", but added that it is still growing in every country where new streaming options have been launched. "Even in a world of uncertainty and increasing competition, we’re optimistic about our long-term growth prospects as streaming supplants linear entertainment around the world," Netflix stated in its shareholder letter. In their video interview, executives sought to reassure investors that Netflix's long-term prospects are bright. Sarandos said the service had not seen a decline in customer engagement or retention and he projected the switch to streaming from traditional television would continue to open opportunities worldwide. The stock remained down nearly 20%. "The pace of the migration may be a little hard to call from time to time when there are kind of very global events or even local conditions," Sarandos added. "But it's absolutely happening. There's no question of that." The company is looking for new ways to attract customers, including with mobile video games. Netflix said it released 10 games in 2021, was pleased with the early reception and would expand its gaming portfolio in 2022. Subscribe to Mid-day email alert We deliver news to your inbox daily