Netflix will beat subscriber expectations for fourth quarter, analyst predicts

Key Points
  • GBH Insights recommends Netflix shares, citing optimism over subscriber numbers.
  • The firm estimates the company will report net subscriber additions of 7 million for the December quarter versus the Wall Street consensus of 6.3 million.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gives a keynote address, January 6, 2016 at the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Robyn Beck | AFP | Getty Images

Netflix shares will thrive as the streaming giant builds on its original content and its international expansion, according to one Wall Street firm.

GBH Insights reiterated its "highly attractive" rating for Netflix shares, predicting better-than-expected subscriber additions during its fourth quarter. The quarterly results are to be announced Monday.

Daniel Ives, GBH Insights' head of technology research, said in a note to clients on Tuesday that Netflix is likely to show stronger-than-expected subscriber additions despite a domestic price increase and that it "should handily exceed the Street's estimates across the board."

The analyst said his bullish case for Netflix is based on its strong competitive advantage and franchise appeal, its ability to increase its international streaming subscriber base through 2020 and original content offerings that "will translate into robust profitability and growth as the next phase of this story plays out over the coming year."

Ives increased his price target to $255 from $235 for Netflix shares. The new target is 15 percent higher than Tuesday's closing price. He also raised his Netflix net subscriber forecast to 7 million from 6.3 million for the December quarter versus the Wall Street consensus of 6.3 million.

He said Netflix will spend $7 billion to $8 billion for content in 2018 and noted that the company expects to use 50 percent of its budget for original content by 2020, up from the 25 percent it used last year.

"With more consumer dollars shifting away from traditional cable with cord cutting and towards streaming delivery, we believe Netflix has a long runway of growth and opportunity ahead of itself and clear first mover advantage despite intense competition from larger media players (Disney), pure play competitors, and new potential entrants (e.g. Apple)," he wrote.

Despite the call, Netflix shares were down 2.2 percent Wednesday.