Icahn To CNBC: ‘I'm Buying Netflix Because It's Undervalued’
So why is Carl Icahn buying Netflix?
Shares of the streaming giant soared 14% after the billionaire investor disclosed a 10% stake in the Los Gatos, California based company.
"I'm buying it because it's undervalued," Icahn told CNBC.com, in his classic understated style. "I believe there is a secular change in the media industry, and consolidation in this space makes sense," Icahn added.
(Read More: Icahn Netflix Play Sends Stock Soaring)
So who are the potential buyers?
Icahn declined to name names, but market participants have long speculated that Google, Microsoft or perhaps even one of the telecom or cable companies could step up to the plate. But the company atop most lists is Amazon .
"It's the only one that makes sense," said Wedbush's Michael Pachter (who rates Netflix a "SELL" with a $45 price target.) "Instead of spending billions on content, Amazon should just buy Netflix and get the synergy and scale."
With Netflix shares well off their all-time highs, a sale seems more palatable, but at what price?
Last week's sale of Hulu could offer some clues.
Providence Equity Partner sold its 10-percent stake in Hulu for $200 million to Disney, News Corp. and Comcast (parent company of CNBC). According to Whitney Tilson of T2 Partners, that amount works itself out to about $1000 per paid subscriber.
Netflix is currently valued at $100 per paid subscriber.
(Read More: Netflix: Still Worth Putting in Your Queue?)
"Let's say they get $200 per paid subscriber," said Tilson. "That would equal a share price of about $103, or a market cap just shy of $6 billion."
In terms of the timing of any potential deal, Icahn demurred, but his SEC filing offers some clues. Of the 5.5 million shares he disclosed owning, 4.3 million are in the form of custom call options that expire in September, 2014. That suggests Icahn expects a deal within the next two years.
Most shocking of all: Icahn might actually use Netflix.
"I'm a movie buff," admitted Icahn. "But I haven't been to the movies in almost six months."
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