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News Link • Entertainment: Movies

Netflix Profit Up 88 Percent, But Shares Fall 5 Percent

• Sam Gustin via WIRED.com

Netflix, the streaming-video and DVD-rental-by-mail giant, said that its profit soared 88 percent in the first quarter as it added 3.6 million subscribers globally. But the company’s shares were battered in after-hours trading, falling 5 percent after the company projected that its profits next quarter wouldn’t likely be as high as Wall Street traders hoped they would be.

The seemingly odd timing of the sell-off may also be due to investors trying to reap some profits from a stock that has risen 40 percent this year.

For the first quarter, Netflix said it earned $1.11 per share on revenue of $718.6 million, beating the Street’s expectation of $1.08 a share on revenue of $704 million. The company said it made profit of $60.2 million, nearly double the $32.3 million it earned one year ago.

Despite the strong performance, Netflix’s earnings guidance for next quarter disappointed investors, prompting them to shed the stock. Netflix projected the high end of its second-quarter per-share earnings at $1.15, shy of the Street’s consensus estimate of $1.19.

Netflix came close to overtaking cable giant Comcast in terms of US video subscribers, but didn’t quite pull it off, missing by a paltry 5,000 subscribers. Netflix reported 22.797 million U.S. subscribers; Comcast’s most recent figure is 22.802 million, a number which is declining over time. Netflix’s global subscriber number, 23.6 million, however, did top Comcast.

But even if Netflix had actually surpassed Comcast in absolute U.S. video-subscriber numbers Monday, it’s important to remember the context. Netflix charges its customers $8 per month for the basic, unlimited-streaming package. Comcast’s subscribers pay $50, $60, $70 — and more — for their monthly cable-video service.

 

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