The battle for the living room has been interesting to watch from an investing perspective. I have been down on Comcast for years, thinking their business model would be severely hampered by the cord cutters eliminating cable. This has been somewhat true as the stock price has been flattish over the last 5 years:
The one stock I have been kicking myself for not owning is Netflix – which has had an incredible run over the last 5 years:
Earlier this month, Netflix reported slowing growth, and the stock got hammered – down from 360’ish to 310’ish. Recent earnings showing a slowing of subscriber growth, and fears of the Disney streaming service and Apple streaming service spooked investors.
The way I see it – the market is wrong on this one. Granted Netflix’s valuation is awfully high, but even with their subscriber growth not meeting projections, it was still decent domestically and great internationally. Interestingly their growth in the previous year’s quarter also missed expectations, and it bounced back nicely the following quarter. The word on the street was that areas that had price increases fared the worst. I am willing to bet that subscribers to Netflix are not that price sensitive. Amazon raised the price on Amazon Prime and nobody blinked – I think Netflix has more levers they can pull to raise revenue if they feel the need.
Regarding the increase in competition – I think the market is overreacting on this one too. I agree Disney is going to be a formidable competitor (and luckily I have been long Disney for awhile), but I hardly think Netflix will be the one hurt the most by this. Netflix is an establishment in most households – and I think it has the strongest network effect of all streaming companies. I think the big losers will be the 2nd tier streaming/content services – things like CBS Interactive, maybe Showtime, HBO etc. If people want to cut down their expenses on monthly TV subscriptions, I think Netflix will be low on the list. Regarding Apple’s offering – I am willing to bet that it will be underwhelming and not meet expectations. I still am in the camp that Apple is struggling to execute on its new initiatives, so I think the market is overly concerned about this one.
I initiated a small position in Netflix a few months ago when I saw the stock price weaken on these competition concerns. I prefer to invest in companies with CEO’s that consistently make the right moves, and Reed Hastings meets that criteria. So even though I am underwater on my holdings of Netflix, I am definitely not selling, and considering doubling down on this one – I am just waiting for the stock market and price to stabilize then will take a closer look.