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Netflix's Hastings Facebook Post Violated SEC Rule: Analyst

Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix
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Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings did not comply with Securities and Exchange Commission rules concerning fair disclosure with a July post on Facebook, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

"The regulations are pretty clear, and they specify the manner in which you can make public disseminations of material information and Facebook just isn't one of them," Pachter told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

Netflix has received what's known as a Wells Notice from the SEC, which could result in civil action against the company and its chief executive.

Hastings sent out the Facebook post on July 3 on his public page with about 245,000 subscribers: "Netflix monthly viewing exceeded 1 billion hours for the first time ever in June."

(Flashback: CNBC Senior Stocks Commentator Herb Greenberg first questioned the Hastings post two days after it happened.)

The SEC is looking into whether Hastings violated Regulation FD -- a set of fair disclosure rules adopted in 2000 to guard against selective disclosure of material information.

"We think posting to over 200,000 people is very public, especially because many of my subscribers are reporters and bloggers," Hastings wrote Thursday in a new Facebook post on his public page. He also said he did not think the July posting was "material" information.

Wedbush's Pachter disagrees, saying the July post was not made in a proper public forum and should be considered "material" according to the way Reg FD is written.

While acknowledging that the rules may be outdated by not including social networks, Pachter said, "The SEC hasn't done it yet. So don't decide for yourself that Facebook is a news outlet."

Just look at how the stock reacted, he said.

"[Netflix] was up $4 the day [Hastings] posted it. [The stock] was up $9 the next day.

"So when the information was widely disseminated, that stock went from averaging under $70 [a share] for the 20 days prior to his post to averaging over $80 for the 20 days following."

Hastings addressed the stock move in Thursday's response, saying "while our stock rose the day of my public post, the increase started well before my mid-morning post was out, likely driven by the positive Citigroup research report the evening before."

Pachter discounts the Citi report as the reason for the move, noting that Facebook itself doesn't use Facebook to disseminate material information.

"If Facebook doesn't use their own platform, then the average, reasonable person knows it's not a news outlet."

Follow Matthew J. Belvedere on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC

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