Some investors had been concerned that Netflix could lose its first-mover advantage in an increasingly competitive digital content market. In December, Amazon announced that it was expanding its Prime Video service to 200 countries, a little less than a year after Netflix's own international push. In January 2016, Netflix launched its service in 130 additional countries — something the company said in October would lead to tough comparisons in net additional subscribers.
But on Wednesday, Netflix issued upbeat subscriber guidance for the first quarter of 2017. It said it expects to add 5.2 million subscribers in the current quarter — 1.5 million domestically and 3.7 million overseas. The company said, however, that it believes its "strong Q4 results likely pulled forward some net adds from Q1 '17 to Q4 '16."
The streaming service posted fourth-quarter earnings per share of 15 cents on revenue of $2.48 billion, roughly a 35 percent year-over-year increase in sales. Analysts expected Netflix to report earnings of 13 cents a share on $2.47 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.
Last week, the stock hit an all-time high at $133.93 amid bullish expectations from Wall Street. On Wednesday, the stock ripped past that level in extended trade, briefly touching $146.
While the stock rallied ahead of earnings, Netflix delivered, said Barton Crockett, senior research analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
"These guys are very fully penetrated in the U.S. and yet they are still putting up very good subscriber growth here and they're still executing well internationally. So my hat's off to them," Crockett said on CNBC's "Closing Bell."