The Beginner’s Guide to Investing

If you invested $1,000 in Netflix 10 years ago, here’s how much you’d have now

In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | Getty Images

Despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the resulting market crash, Netflix released its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday with results that exceeded Wall Street expectations.

During Q1, the video streaming service also saw significant subscriber growth, adding 15.8 million net global subscribers.

A $1,000 investment in the company 10 years ago would be worth nearly $30,000 as of April 22, 2020, for a total return of nearly 3,000%, according to CNBC calculations. By comparison, in the same time frame, the S&P 500 had a total return of almost 180%. Netflix's current share price is hovering around $422.

CNBC: Netflix's stock as of April 2020.

While Netflix's stock has done well over the years, any individual stock can over- or underperform and past returns do not predict future results.

Netflix says that its first-quarter subscriber spike was likely helped by the pandemic, as people stay inside and have more time to watch TV and movies. The company warns that this pace, at least when it comes to subscriber additions, probably won't last.

"With lockdown orders in many countries starting in March, many more households joined Netflix to enjoy entertainment," Netflix said in its letter to shareholders. Next quarter, Netflix expects just 7.5 million new global paid subscribers, although the company says that this prediction is "mostly guesswork."

"The actual Q2 numbers could end up well below or well above that, depending on many factors, including when people can go back to their social lives in various countries and how much people take a break from television after the lockdown," Netflix added.

What's next for Netflix

Despite the fact that the Covid-19 crisis has made it difficult for Netflix to plan ahead, the company is making it a top priority to keep providing "high quality content," especially as people continue to stay home.

"While our productions are largely paused around the world, we benefit from a large pipeline of content that was either complete and ready for launch or in post-production when filming stopped," Netflix says. "We're looking forward to releasing all of our originally planned shows and films."

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Netflix is also looking for "ways of bolstering its programming," the company told shareholders.

It recently acquired the Paramount and Media Rights Capital comedy "The Lovebirds," after the movie's April 3 theater debut was canceled due to the pandemic. Later in the year, the service will also add Legendary Pictures' "Enola Holmes," an upcoming mystery film starring Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill, to its content library.

Netflix is also working to support production workers who are without pay right now. In March, the company established a $100 million relief fund to pay its casts and crews whose work has been put on hold.

This fund will pay workers for about seven weeks. Netflix hopes the aid will help TV and film professionals "through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide," the company said in a press release.

What will happen with Netflix stock now?

As of Thursday, Netflix stock is up around 32% year to date.

Despite its relatively steady stock performance in the midst of the pandemic, analysts aren't sure how Netflix shares will fare going forward. Select analysts say the sky's the limit in terms of the company's potential, and many say that it's unlikely that a significant portion of users will cancel.

On the other hand, Stifel investment bank analyst Scott Devitt is less sure about the outlook for Netflix stock, especially given that the company has "benefited meaningfully as a result of the current environment," Devitt said.

"As government restrictions ease, we expect some degree of trend reversal to emerge as the conditions that drove the surge in demand begin to subside," Devitt said.

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Netflix remains optimistic about its outlook but is keeping a watchful eye on what will happen next quarter as the pandemic progresses. "Hopefully, progress against the virus will allow governments to lift the home confinement soon," the company says. "As that happens, we expect viewing and growth to decline."

If you're just considering getting into the stock market, begin carefully and remember that past returns do not predict future results. That's why experienced investors, such as Warren Buffett, suggest you start with index funds.

Index funds hold every stock in an index such as the S&P 500 and offer low turnover rates, attendant fees and tax bills. They also fluctuate with the market and eliminate the risk of picking individual stocks.

Don't miss: Why Warren Buffett says index funds are the best investment

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