Netflix results will test the resolve of investors

The stakes are often high when Netflix Inc. reports results: Stock swings of 10% or more aren’t uncommon. But with the shares down more than a fifth since the streaming giant disappointed investors in July, the risk of another plunge may be lower this time around.

When Netflix posts results after markets close Wednesday, analysts expect an increase of about 800,000 U.S. subscribers for the third quarter and about 6 million internationally. Whether or not the company hits those targets may depend on how much Netflix’s new programming resonated with viewers.

The timing of Netflix’s latest shows probably helped subscriber growth, said Third Bridge’s Scott Kessler, who cited the new season of “Stranger Things” as a potential driver. Netflix also may have gotten a boost from a competitor’s show, HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” ending its run.

Gerber Kawasaki Inc., a Netflix investor, also expects “a pop from the people moving from HBO and resubscribing,” thanks to “Stranger Things.”

Still, Gerber investment adviser Nick Licouris said the firm has been reducing its position because of looming competition from Apple Inc., Walt Disney Co., AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. The Santa Monica, California-based wealth manager holds more than 12,000 shares valued at almost $3.7 million, according to a June regulatory filing.

Given that Netflix has been growing so much faster internationally, analysts will be eyeing the company’s progress — and spending — in key foreign markets.

“We’re looking to see if there’s any meaningful traction with some of the lower-priced, mobile-only plans — with India primarily,” Andy Hargreaves, a KeyBanc Capital analyst, said in an interview.

Netflix itself predicted in July it would add a total of 7 million subscribers in the third quarter — 800,000 in the U.S. and 6.2 million elsewhere.

Many investors may still be smarting from the company’s last quarterly report. Three months ago, Netflix posted disappointing second-quarter subscriber growth — and a rare drop in the U.S. The shares slumped 10%.

“It would be hard for it to be worse” this time, Hargreaves said, though investor concerns will persist as new streaming services increase the risk of higher subscriber churn or marketing costs, according to a note.

Rosenblatt Securities predicts the company’s fourth-quarter subscriber guidance will miss Wall Street’s consensus, according to a note from analyst Bernie McTernan. He expects the forecast to “be treated with greater than normal skepticism” given that Netflix is reporting weeks before the launch of competing offerings, such as Disney+.

“Netflix has never faced this level of competition from a new entrant,” he wrote.

Gerber’s Licouris sees room for both Netflix and Disney, but warns that “at some point, it becomes extremely saturated.”

On Tuesday, for example, the largest U.S. theatre chain, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., announced a new service that would give U.S. subscribers online access to nearly 2,000 movies for rent or purchase.

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Netflix results will test the resolve of investors