Netflix Stock Soars as Subscriber Growth Tops Expectations
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Netflix Stock Soars as Subscriber Growth Tops Expectations

Wed, Oct 19, 2022 8:36amGrey Clock 3 min

Netflix shares were trading sharply higher after the streaming giant posted better-than-expected subscriber growth for the third quarter.

The company added 2.41 million net new subscribers in the quarter, beating its own forecast of 1 million additions. Netflix (ticker: NFLX) said it expects to add another 4.5 million subscribers in the December quarter.

Netflix stock jumped 14% in late trading to $274.60.

The streaming company posted third-quarter revenue of $7.93 billion and earnings of $3.10 a share, ahead of the company’s forecast of $7.84 billion and $2.14 a share. For the fourth quarter, Netflix projects revenue of $7.78 billion and earnings of 36 cents a share.

Revenue in the latest quarter was up 6% but would have been 13% higher in constant currency, as the strong dollar took a considerable toll on reported results. The company said the revenue increase reflected a 5% increase in average paid memberships versus a year ago and a 1% rise in average revenue per membership.

The company said revenue was up 19% in the Asia-Pacific region adjusted for currency; 13% in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region; and 19% in Latin America. For the U.S. and Canada, revenue was up 12%, with paid subscribers up 100,000. The bigger subscriber increase was in the Asia-Pacific region, where the total increased 1.43 million. The company added 570,000 subscribers in EMEA, and 310,000 in Latin America.

Operating margin was 19.3%, falling from 23.5% a year ago and 19.8% in the June quarter, declines the company said were due to foreign exchange factors. Net income of $1.398 billion includes a $348 million noncash change tied to the company’s Euro-denominated debt.

The company expects an operating margin of 4% in the fourth quarter, down from 8% a year ago, due to both foreign exchange rates and higher content and marketing costs. Netflix said that the strong dollar will reduce full-year revenue by about $1 billion, with about an $800 million reduction in operating income.

In one surprise development, Netflix said that starting next quarter, the company would no longer give guidance on paid memberships—the metric that has been most important to investors in recent quarters. The company will still report quarterly subscriber data, just not forward-looking guidance on the metric.

The company said it would continue to provide guidance on revenue, operating income, operating margin, net income, earnings per share, and shares outstanding. Netflix said that with the addition of new revenue streams such as advertising and paid sharing, revenue growth will be a better measure of the company’s growth.

The company also provided a brief update on its strategy for reducing account sharing by people not in the same household. Netflix said that starting in early 2023, it will offer people now using borrowed passwords a way to transfer their Netflix profile into their own account. The company will also offer sharers easier ways to manage devices and to create sub-accounts to pay for family or friends.

Netflix also provided an update on its gaming service, which it launched almost a year ago. There are now 35 games on the service, the company said, and there are “encouraging signs” that gameplay leads to higher subscriber retention rates. The company said there are 55 more games in development, some based on Netflix video content.

Last week, Netflix unveiled the details of its new ad-supported subscription tier. Starting Nov. 3, the company will offer consumers the option to pay $6.99 a month for “Basic with Ads,” which will include four to five minutes of advertising per hour for streaming movies and TV shows. The new service is $3 cheaper than the company’s Basic plan, which is $9.99 a month, and a dollar a month cheaper than the new ad-supported tier on Walt Disney’s (DIS) Disney+.

Netflix said it doesn’t expect a material contribution from the new ad-supported tier in the fourth quarter, noting that it expects to grow membership in that plan “gradually over time.” Netflix added that the reaction from advertisers so far has been “extremely positive.”

Netflix also used its quarterly letter as a forum to poke at the competition, noting that its rivals together will have more than $10 billion in operating losses this year, versus a projected $5.4 billon in operating profit for Netflix. “Building a large, successful streaming business is hard,” the company said.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Auto dealers across many parts of the country say electric vehicles are becoming too hard a sell for buyers worried about the range, reliability and price of these models.

When Paul LaRochelle heard Ford Motor was coming out with an electric pickup truck, the dealer was excited about the prospects for his business.

“We thought we could build a million of them and sell them,” said LaRochelle, a vice president at Sheehy Auto Stores, which sells vehicles from a dozen brands in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The reality has been less positive. On Sheehy’s car lots, LaRochelle says there is a six- to 12-month supply of EVs, compared with a month of gasoline-powered vehicles.

With automakers set to release a barrage of new electric models in the coming years, concerns are mounting among auto retailers about whether the technology will have broader appeal given that many customers are still reluctant to make the switch.

Battery-powered models have been piling up on car lotsdealers say, as EV sales growth has slowed in the U.S. this year. Car companies have been offering a combination of discounts and lower interest-rate deals in an effort to juice demand. But it hasn’t been enough, because buyer reticence extends beyond the price tag, dealers say.

“I’m not hearing the consumer confidence in the technology,” said Mary Rice, dealer principal at Toyota of Greensboro in North Carolina. “People aren’t beating down the door to buy these things, and they all have a different excuse why they aren’t buying one.”

Customers cite concerns about vehicles burning through a battery charge faster in cold weather or not being able to travel as far as they expected on a single charge, dealers say. Potential buyers also worry that chargers aren’t as readily accessible as gas stations or might be broken.

Franchise dealerships fear that the push to roll out new models will inundate them with hard-to-sell vehicles. Research firm S&P Global Mobility said there are 56 EV models for sale in the U.S. this year, and the number is expected to nearly double to 100 next year.

“I start to think, you know maybe we should just all pump the brakes a little bit,” Rice said.

A group of dealers expressed their concerns about the government’s role in pushing electric vehicles in a letter last month to President Biden.

A Toyota Motor spokesman said the majority of dealers have become “increasingly more confident in their ability to sell Toyota EV products.”

At Ford, the company’s electric-vehicle sales are rising, including for its F-150 Lightning pickup, but demand isn’t evenly spread across the country, according to a spokesman.

Dealers say that after selling an EV, they sometimes hear complaints about charging and the vehicles not always meeting their advertised range. In some cases, customers seek to return them to the dealer shortly after buying them.

“We have a steady number of clients that have attempted to or flat out returned their car,” said Sheehy’s LaRochelle.

While EVs remain a small but rapidly expanding part of the new-car market, the pace of growth has slowed this year. Electric-vehicle sales increased 48% in the first 11 months, compared with a 69% jump during the same period in 2022, according to Motor Intelligence. Sales remain concentrated in a few states, with California accounting for the largest chunk, S&P Global Mobility data found.

The cooling growth has raised broader questions in the industry about whether car companies face a temporary hurdle or a longer-term demand challenge. Automakers have invested billions of dollars to bring more EV models to the market, and many analysts and car executives say they remain optimistic that sales will continue to expand.

“Although the rate of growth has slowed recently, EV demand is clearly moving in the right direction,” said General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra on a recent conference call with analysts. A combination of more affordable model options and better charging infrastructure would help encourage more people to buy electric vehicles, she said.

There are also varying views within the dealer community about how quickly buyers will adopt the technology.In hot spots for electric-vehicle demand, such as Los Angeles, dealers say their battery-powered models are some of their top sellers. Those popular EV markets also tend to have more mature public charging networks.

Selling an electric car or truck outside of those demand centres is proving more difficult.

Longtime EV owner Carmella Roehrig thought she was ready to go full-electric and sold her backup gasoline vehicle. But after the 62-year-old North Carolina resident found herself stranded last year in a rural area of South Carolina, she changed her mind. Roehrig’s Tesla Model S got a flat tire, but none of the stores in the area carried tires for a Tesla. She ended up paying a worker at a nearby shop to drive her home.

Roehrig still has her Tesla but bought a pickup truck for long road trips.

Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

“I have these conversations with people who say we’ll all be in EVs in 15 years. I say: ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve tried to do it,’” Roehrig said. “I think you need a gas backup.”

Customers who want to ditch their gas vehicle for environmental reasons are sometimes hesitant, said Mickey Anderson, president of Baxter Auto Group, which owns dealerships in Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

“We’re in the Colorado Springs market. If this is your sole mode of transportation, and you’re in a market in extremes of elevation and temperature, the actual range is very limited,” Anderson said. “It makes it extremely impractical.”

Dealers representing around 4,000 stores across the U.S. signed the letter in November addressed to Biden, saying the administration’s proposed auto-emissions regulations designed to promote electric-vehicle sales are unrealistic. The signatories ranged from stores owned by family businesses to publicly held giants such as AutoNation and Lithia Motors.

“Some customers are in the market for electric vehicles, and we are thrilled to sell them. But the majority of customers are simply not ready to make the change,” the letter said.

Some carmakers are pushing back EV-rollout plans. GM said in mid-October that it would delay the opening of an electric pickup plant by a year to late 2025. In response to weaker-than-expected consumer demand, Ford said in late October that it would defer $12 billion of planned spending on electric-vehicle investment.

Since September, dealers on average took more than two months to sell an EV, compared with 40 days for all vehicles, according to car-shopping website Edmunds.

While discounts have helped boost sales of some electric vehicles, they also have led to repercussions for some current owners because it reduces the value of their vehicles, dealers say.

“Most people don’t have the confidence to buy an EV and know what it will be worth in 10-15 years,” said Rice from the Toyota dealership.

It may take some time for the industry to adjust because it is still in an early stage of switching to electric vehicles, Sheehy’s LaRochelle said.

“We’re asking for this market to grow organically,” he said.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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