Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the online video streaming and DVD-by-mail entertainment service that saw an exodus of 800,000 subscribers last quarter after an aborted move to split in two, is expected to report disappointing financial results Wednesday as it struggles to make a profit off subscribers moving online for content.
Earnings are expected to range between $19 million and $36 million, or 36 cents to 70 cents a share, far below the $47 million or 90 cents a share, last year, company guidance and analysts said. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expect earnings of 55 cents a share.
The subscribers today aren't the same subscribers from five years ago, Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible said in an interview, explaining that while Netflix should add about 2 million net subscribers each quarter for a while, most will be using the online-streaming service rather than the more profitable DVD by mail.
Despite the move toward online streaming, the DVD-by-mail service still provides 80 percent of the company's profits, Wible noted.
Recovering From the Past
Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix has struggled since September, when it announced a plan to split up its video streaming and DVD-by-mail services, following the announcement of price increases by as much as 60 percent. Netflix backed down on the split amid consumer outrage, but kept the price increases intact.
Shares have fallen since the company's self-admitted misstep. When subscribers bolted, the shares fell as low as $62.37, well off the high of $304.79. On Tuesday, Netflix traded around $92.70, giving the company a market value of $4.87 billion.
The last few months...have been difficult for shareholders, employees, and most unfortunately, many members of Netflix, CEO Reed Hastings wrote in a letter to shareholders following the third-quarter earnings announcement. We've hurt our hard-earned reputation and stalled our domestic growth.
Netflix shares have slowly gained momentum since hitting a 52-week low in November. Shares rose when the company announced Jan. 4 that its more than 20 million members streamed over 2 billion hours of TV shows and movies in the fourth quarter. The shares also after rumors of buyouts by companies such as Yahoo, Amazon and Verizon Communications.
The company is predicting a loss for at least the first quarter of 2012 as the company is investing heavily in Europe. Netflix launched its streaming service in the UK and Ireland in January.