Netflix shares jump after Citi says investors should buy the big dip

Key Points
  • Neflix shares surge after Citigroup said investors should buy the recent dip that has seen the streaming company's shares tumble.
  • The stock had fallen 11.7 percent over the past five days, part of a broad sell-off led by tech and communication services shares.
  • Citi calls Netflix "a high-quality, recurring revenue franchise with attractive upside potential" and reiterates its $375 price target, representing 17 percent upside.
CNBC | Jeniece Pettitt

Netflix shares jumped Friday after Citigroup said the recent tumble represents a buying opportunity for the entertainment streaming company.

Though Citi kept its price target at $375 a share, its forecasts for several key metrics are well above the Wall Street consensus. Citi did upgrade Netflix to a buy from hold. Shares gained 4.8 percent Friday morning.

"We view the recent sell-off as an opportunity to own a high-quality, recurring revenue franchise with attractive upside potential," the analysts said.

The optimism comes amid a dark period for Netflix and its peers. The company's shares had plunged 11.7 percent over the previous five days and 22.4 percent over the three-month period, badly underperforming the broader , which is down 2.5 percent in the past three months and 6 percent in the five-day period as of Thursday.

The broader market had been in an aggressive sell-off mode over the past week amid concerns over rising interest rates, escalating trade tensions and tighter monetary policy.

Citi analyst Kevin Toomey said current forecasts call for Netflix streaming growth of 700,000 domestically and 4.75 million internationally in the third quarter, with management likely to guide those numbers respectively for the fourth quarter to 1.65 million and 5.75 million.

The bank said "we like this setup" as it suggests upside to current forecasts and forward estimates that are conservative.

As for specific numbers, Citi sees 27 percent total revenue growth for Netflix in 2019 against consensus of 24 percent; operating income of $3.4 billion vs. the Street's $2.7 million, and earnings per share surging 98 percent to $5.69 next year against consensus of $4.35.

Despite the recent tumble, Netflix shares are still up 67.3 percent year to date, easily outperforming the newly spun-off communication services, which is down 10.3 percent.

— With reporting by CNBC's Michael Bloom

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