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Bank: Netflix has plenty of subscriber headroom

April 17, 2018

Netflix’s share price has been in the doldrums for the past two weeks or so (currently about $311 [€251] a share, compared to $331 a month ago) but still vastly ahead of its position a year ago ($140).

The buoyancy and – in general – upward trajectory is almost entirely because of a matching optimism as to how many more subscribers the OTT operator might garner in the next year or two.

That question is fully answered by a report from equity analyst Benjamin Swinburne from investment bank Morgan Stanley. Swinburne is blunt, saying that the international streaming market is “large and unaddressed” and that “Netflix could eat much of it”.

Swinburne goes further and thinks Netflix is “still in the early stages of global adoption,” citing the largely untapped international market as one key area of growth potential.

The bank report acknowledges that a US vs China trade dispute could slow down Netflix in that market, and the operator is not immune to the general FAANG backlash following on from Facebook’s recent problems.

But Swinburne sweeps these anxieties away saying that the subscriber scope from other markets climbing onto the Netflix bandwagon is inescapable, and puts a $350 per share price target on Netflix stock, and argues that the share price could – in a bull case – rise to a spectacular $440.

Swinburne argues that Netflix’s 120 million current subs represent a valuable core out of the potential 660 million addressable homes globally, and that Netflix could win more than 300 million of these by 2028.

Key to Morgan Stanley’s thinking is Netflix and how it is tapping into creative talent, in its existing markets but with the potential to not just out-spend, but creatively out-think its rivals. Add in the obvious appeal of ‘on demand’ advertising-free (and increasingly Ultra HD) offerings and you have a winning mix of offerings and you have a winning mix for subscribers.

“There remains a big opportunity in many of Netflix’s older markets, as evidenced by continued strong growth in the US,” he says.

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