Wall Street thinks Netflix may be lowballing its subscriber numbers

Key Points
  • Netflix gave a better-than-expected subscriber forecast for the second quarter, but Wall Street thinks they may be 'lowballing' it.
  • Netflix also revealed it could pass the 100-million subscriber milestone, globally, as soon as this weekend.
  • If Netflix ended the first quarter with 98.75 million subscribers and will pass the 100 million mark this weekend, that means it's already made about 40 percent of its stated second-quarter subscriber guidance in just three weeks, analysts point out.
Netflix beats Street but subscribers lag

Is Netflix doing even better than it's letting on? Wall Street thinks so.

The video streaming company offered a better-than-expected subscriber forecast for the current quarter when it reported results Monday evening, saying it expects to add a combined 3.2 million customers domestically and internationally in the period. But according to the first notes to clients Tuesday morning, analysts believes Netflix is being conservative, even with that better-than-expected forecast.

Here's why:

The company also revealed Monday it is on the verge of surpassing 100 million subscribers globally, and it could reach that number as soon as this weekend. If that amazing milestone is true, then Netflix executives just tipped their hand that the subscriber guidance they gave for this quarter may be too low.

Scott Devitt of Stifel explains:

"Netflix ended 1Q:17 with 98.75mm subscribers and noted it expects to eclipse the 100mm subscriber mark this weekend, giving the company around 40% of its expected quarterly net adds in just three weeks."

Are you following?

If Netflix reaches 100 million subscribers this weekend, that means it's already added 1.25 million subscribers — or nearly 40 percent — so far this quarter, well on its way to making its guidance of 3.2 million adds.

Devitt raised his 12-month price target to $170 from $155 in part because of this.

Even bearish analysts noticed this point.

"The disclosure that Netflix is going to pass the 100mn subscriber count this weekend suggests it is trending ahead of schedule towards its sub guidance for 2Q17," wrote Mark May of Citi Research, who has a neutral rating. "Considering the new seasons of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are scheduled for release later this quarter as well, we believe guidance could prove conservative."

To be sure, Netflix executives may be privy to a reason why subscriber growth could slow in the second half of this quarter, making their guidance just right.

Shares of the company closed down over 2 percent at $143.36 per share on Tuesday.

Netflix did not immediately return CNBC requests for comment.