Netflix draws its second 'sell' rating on Wall Street as Buckingham downgrades before earnings

  • Netflix downgraded to underperform at Buckingham, with analyst Matthew Harrigan advising clients the online streamer will face stiff competition overseas.
  • Buckingham's underperform rating (the equivalent of a sell) is only the second such rating on Wall Street, according to TipRanks.com.
  • The company is set to report second-quarter financial earnings after market close Monday.
Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix Inc.
Akio Kon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Reed Hastings, chief executive officer of Netflix Inc.

Netflix shares got a rare Wall Street downgrade from Buckingham Research Group on the day the online television and firm streaming provider is set to report second-quarter earnings.

Buckingham downgraded the stock to underperform from neutral and lowered its price target to $301 from $333. The new target implies a 16 percent drop from Friday's close.

The stock will underperform as the Street’s lofty projections are already reflected in its stock price and an increasingly competitive global marketplace caps its ability to raise subscription costs, analyst Matthew Harrigan told clients.

"Second-quarter 2018 original content and new season installment quality is underwhelming, even as sheer output volume enabled Netflix to finally pass HBO in the number of Emmy Award nominations. Even if Netflix Google search activity suggests a possible beat we would use another post-earnings pop to take profits," Harrigan wrote. "As TV goes all- IP delivery globally, and Netflix soon loses much outside content, it will have to increasingly differentiate itself through in-house production as its user experience advantage erodes."

Netflix will report earnings after the bell Monday. The stock, which has doubled this year, rose 1.18 percent Monday. Buckingham's underperform rating (the equivalent of a sell) is only the second such rating on Wall Street, according to TipRanks.com. The stock has 20 buy ratings and 10 hold ratings. Wedbush also has a sell rating.

Harrigan added that he expects the company to post an increase in U.S. subscribers of 1.25 million and an increase in international subscribers of 5.12 million; his earnings per share estimate of 80 cents is just higher than consensus projections of 79 cents.

"This is hardly remarkable with estimated marketing spend up 75 percent year over year and benefits from marketing with Comcast, Liberty Global, T-Mobile, etc. still kicking in," the analyst added. "International competitive intensity is increasing, while pricing power is limited in high growth and especially competitive middle-income markets like India,"

Netflix premiered its first original series in India earlier this month in its latest campaign against streaming competitors like Amazon for a chunk of the country's more than 1 billion potential viewers.

The company is spending about $8 billion this year on original content and has said that figure will rise as works to solidify its leadership in streaming around the world. The company's international streaming revenue grew over 58 percent last year, according to latest filings.

CNBC's Patty Martell contributed to this report.

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