Netflix Stock Surges on Huge Q1 Subscriber Growth

Streaming heavyweight adds another 7.4 million customers — passes 120 million overall

Last Updated: April 16, 2018 @ 3:27 PM

Another quarter, another busload of new subscribers for Netflix, with the streaming giant running past Wall Street estimates, as well as its own, when it comes to fresh streamers when the company reported its first quarter earnings on Monday.

For the three months ending on March 31, Netflix reported revenue of $3.7 billion and earnings of 64 cents a share — narrowly edging analyst estimates of 63 cents a share and $3.69 billion in revenue. The Los Gatos, California-based company increased revenue 43 percent year-over-year.

But subscribers is what investors care the most about, and Netflix delivered yet again with its second-best quarter for subscriber additions. The company added 1.96 million users in the U.S., and 5.46 million internationally — pushing the company past 124 million customers overall. Analysts had anticipated 1.45 million domestic subs and 4.9 million internationally. International customers now account for 50 percent of the company’s revenue, Netflix said in a statement accompanying earnings.

Shares of Netflix jumped 6 percent in after hours trading, hitting $326.70 a share.

The company’s debt obligations continued to increase during the first quarter, with long-term debt pushing from $6.5 billion to $6.55 billion. Total liabilities moved from $15.4 billion to $16 billion, compared with $2.6 billion in cash on hand. Netflix doesn’t seem concerned, though, calling its debt “quite modest as a percentage of our enterprise value.”

Coming off big releases like “The Crown” and the Will Smith-led “Bright” to wrap up 2017, Netflix’s first quarter was spearheaded by the return of “Jessica Jones” and “Love,” as well as the “Queer Eye” reboot.

Netflix kicked off awards season with Aziz Ansari winning a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in “Master of None,” and “Icarus” won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

The company pulled its original films from the Cannes Film Festival last week, and pointed to an obscure new wrinkle in its earnings statement, barring French audiences from streaming the movies on Netflix.

“We regret our films not being able to compete at this year’s Cannes film festival. The festival adopted a new rule that means if a film is in competition at Cannes, it can not be watched on Netflix in France for the following three years,” the company said in its earnings statement. “We would never want to do that to our French members. We will continue to 1 celebrate our films and filmmakers at other festivals around the world but unfortunately we will have to sit out Cannes for now so that our growing French membership can continue to enjoy our original films.”

To keep the hits coming, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has said the company will spend up to $8 billion on content this year — and investors don’t seem to mind. Netflix has been a Wall Street darling since the calendar turned to 2018, with shares running nearly 60 percent to hit $307.78 a share as markets closed on Monday.

Netflix will post its prerecorded earnings call at 6:00 pm ET.