Finally, the shorts got the moment they had been waiting for with Netflix -- a stumble that hurt the stock.
The company's high-flying stock came crashing back to earth Monday after the market close, down more than nine percent, when Netflix posted its second quarter earnings and revenue missed Wall Street's expectations.
The company's revenue in the three months that ended in June rose to $788.6 million, falling below Wall Street's estimates. Analysts on average had been expecting $791.5 million. The company did beat expectations in earnings per share, hitting $1.26 against expectations of $1.11 per share.
In the current quarter, Netflix said it anticipates revenue of $780 million to $805 million, and earnings per share of 72 cents to $1.07 per share, while analysts are expecting $846.5 million and $1.09 in consensus.
The revenue miss and the sub par forecast in revenue and earnings for the current quarter sent Netflix's stock trading down immediately in after-hours trading. Netflix was down Monday afternoon $25, or more than nine percent, in after-hours trading on the news to $257.97. The stock had closed in trading Monday at $281.53, up $4.95, or 1.79 percent.
So many investors have tried to short Netflix, but the video services company's stock hasn't played along in the past year before Monday's news.
Throughout the year, Netflix's stock has just kept going, and going -- up. But that changed Monday.
Wall Street's eyes were closely watching for Netflix's second quarter earnings report due to the stock's high-flying success this year and recent uproar involving the customer firestorm two weeks ago when the video streaming service provider announced a 60 percent price hike on unlimited streaming video and DVD-by-mail services.
Thousands of customers said they would defect from Netflix over the move, and polls suggested as many as 10 to 20 percent of Netflix customers might unsubscribe from services.
Investors were looking closely to see why Netflix raised prices so dramatically at once, and what the impact will be. Apparently, revenue was already under pressure as the company missed for the quarter before the price increase was announced. Also, future guidance showed revenue might be below analyst expectations despite the 60 percent price hike.
Wall Street was generally positive during the price increase firestorm as the company's stock increased slightly before settling at previous levels. Netflix closed Friday at $276.58, not far off its 52-week high of $304.79. But Netflix was trading at 80 times earnings -- thus the reason many people have tried shorting Netflix.
The company spent considerable time addressing its controversial price hike in its earnings release Monday.
"It is expected and unfortunate that our DVD subscribers who also use streaming don't like our price change, which can be as much as a 60 percent increase for them from $9.99 to $15.98, when it goes into effect for each subscriber upon their renewal date," said Netflix, in its earnings release.
The company acknowledged "some subscribers will cancel Netflix or downgrade their Netflix plans, (but) we expect most to stay with us."
Earlier this year, Netflix was sold short by hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, who eventually bought back the position at a loss as Netflix's stock kept climbing ahead. In less than one year, Netflix has advanced from $100 per share in August, 2010, to nearly $300 per share today. That's a triple bagger for bulls, and a losing proposition for shorts.
Still, Netflix has more than 9 million shares sold short out of its 52.5 million shares outstanding -- a 2.50 short ratio. But that's down slightly from the short ratio the previous month, meaning some have simply given up on the strategy.
Many betting against Netflix's stock, including Tilson, have been positive about Netflix's business model, but they simply considered the market has been over effusive in its buying praise. On Monday, the shorts finally claimed a minor victory as Netflix's high-flying stock took a hard hit in after-hours trading.