Don’t play into the hype. Netflix is not a buy at these levels, says market watcher

With shares up more than 60 percent this year, it seems everyone is pressing play on Netflix. Not contrarian Michael Binger, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments.

"I don't think I would step into Netflix stock price at these levels right here now," Binger told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Friday.

"I'm not going to deny Netflix is a great company," he added. "They're changing the way we watch TV and the way we stream video, but at 70 times earnings for a company that doesn't generate any cash flow, it's hard for me to invest at these levels."

While the S&P 500 remains in the red for 2018, the streaming service has screamed ahead with 62 percent in gains. It's the second-best performer on the benchmark index.

But those gains have also made for an expensive valuation for Netflix. Its shares trade at 97 times forward earnings, far higher than the 16.5 times multiple on the S&P 500. Netflix's relative strength index, a measure of overbought conditions, sits at 58. A reading above 70 indicates overbought territory.

Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global, echoes Binger's caution and hedges with a "wait-and-see approach."

"At these high valuations, they're basically just earning their keep at the moment. They're not necessarily earning a higher valuation," Sanchez told "Trading Nation" on Friday.

From a business point of view, Sanchez says the company is delivering. She predicts greater profitability next year as it slows its spending on original content and moves toward cash flow positive territory. Comcast's latest offer to include the streaming service as part of its subscription bundles is also a plus, she says.

However, those factors do not make Netflix shares any more attractive to Sanchez.

"We have to take a wait-and-see approach because we have priced in all of the good things that are happening," said Sanchez. "Wait and see is probably where you need to be on Netflix."

Binger, too, is keeping cautious.

"I'd much rather step back and if for some reason this stock price came down a little bit, invest then," said Binger.

Others on the Street are more bullish on Netflix. Deutsche Bank on Friday upgraded its rating to buy from hold, based on expected strength in international markets this year. Analyst Bryan Kraft said that its leadership in the space had made it "very difficult for the traditional media companies, or even other big tech companies, to catch up."

Kraft also upped his price target to $350, implying 12 percent upside from current levels.

Netflix is scheduled to report earnings after the bell Monday. Analysts anticipate 57 percent growth in first-quarter profit and a 39 percent increase in sales. The company is expected to have added 1.48 million domestic subscribers and 5 million international subscribers.

— Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and

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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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