In its third quarter earnings report on Monday, Netflix announced earnings per share of $0.12, twice investors’ expectations of $0.06, on revenues of $2.16 billion—the first time the streaming service’s income exceeded $2 billion.
In a letter to shareholders, company leadership cited its “strong content slate,” namely the hit original shows "Stranger Things" and "Narcos," as major drivers of the boost in revenue, which surpassed the company’s own income expectations by $3 million.
Meanwhile, Netflix still has not turned a profit on its foreign streaming service, once again losing $69 million to non-U.S. operations. But its push to grace the screens of viewers abroad was the main driver behind its subscription growth, with nearly 90 percent of its 3.57 million new members residing outside of the U.S.
Gullane Capital Partners plans to short the stock amid worries that Netflix’s over-investment in volatile international markets, along with outsized capital expenditures to expand its services abroad, spell danger for the company, Trip Miller, a partner at the firm, told International Business Times in a phone interview.
“Yes, they’ve had a nice quarter, but to me they’ve got a lot of challenges going forward,” Miller said, adding that plenty of streaming services are already offering content abroad.
The effort to gain subscribers abroad is likely due to Netflix’s saturation—evidenced by a rapid decline in new members signing up—within the U.S.
In the second quarter, just 160,000 Americans joined Netflix, down from 2.23 million in the first quarter. While only 370,000 Americans joined during the most recent quarter, the company expects 1.45 million additional U.S. subscriptions for the next quarter, which ends in December.
In another potentially costly bet, Netflix Chief Financial Officer David Wells announced in September that half of the streaming service’s content would be original and that the company expected to launch 600 hours of original programming in 2016, up from 450 hours in 2015, according to Variety. It also has slowly been shrinking its library of films, according to Streamer Observer.
But remaining a key destination for people who want to watch movies in their living rooms (or dorms) may not have been a great strategy either, Miller noted, as competitor Amazon has come to dominate the market—and with little risk too, thanks to its array of alternative verticals, such as ecommerce and tech.
Still, Netflix’s share price soared following the earnings announcement, nearing $120 in after-hours trading on Monday after closing at $99.80.