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Netflix's Short-Term Outlook Leaves Wall Street Unimpressed

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) may have just swiped a big movie deal with Sony (NYSE: SNE) from Lions Gate Entertainment's (NYSE: LGF-A)(NYSE: LGF-B) Starz division, but Wall Street was left less than impressed by the purported details, and now analysts also believe Netflix's first quarter may be utterly underwhelming.

The streaming video titan may be coming under pressure to show its business remains robust in the year to come, but Netflix has managed to confound the experts many times before.

Image source: Getty Images.

Benchmark analyst Matthew Harrigan essentially shrugged over the Sony Pictures win that will see Netflix grab the studio's pay-TV movie releases beginning in 2022. Saying the arrangement is "hardly transformative," Harrigan thinks Starz paid a fairer price with its arrangement, and said Netflix signed on at what's "believed to be at a record price and significant premium."

If true, it might indicate a certain desperation, or at least an imperative for Netflix to get new content to fend off the considerable competition it now faces. Still, it seems an important win considering the number of streaming services with unique content now available.

Those rivals just might be cutting into Netflix's dominance, however. Stifel analyst Scott Devitt says his reading of user engagement data on app-tracking website Apptopia indicates the streaming service may undershoot its first-quarter guidance.

While Devitt's own model shows 6.1 million additions in the first quarter, the same as the rest of Wall Street, in the second quarter he is forecasting 3.2 million paid additions, below the 4.3 million consensus forecast.

Despite the seemingly more-dour outlook, Devitt is maintaining his hold rating on the stock and keeping his price target at $550 per share, or about where it is trading today.

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Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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