April 13, 2018
"It's good to be the king." That's a famous line by Mel Brooks in "History of the World: Part I." Unfortunately, this cult comedy classic is not available on Netflix.
But make no mistake: Netflix is the king of Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
Netflix's (NFLX) stock is up more than 60% this year — significantly better than Facebook (FB), Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet (GOOGL), the owner of Google and YouTube.
Netflix will report its first quarter earnings on Monday afternoon, and analysts are forecasting phenomenal growth. They're expecting a 40% jump in sales from a year ago, 60% more profit than a year ago, and 7.5 million more subscribers just since the previous quarter.
Phenomenal growth of Netflix
Netflix undeniably has momentum — and it's getting more love from big media companies. Netflix announced an expanded partnership on Friday with cable giant and NBCUniversal owner Comcast (CMCSA).
Since 2016, Comcast has allowed its X1 TV and internet subscribers to sign in to Netflix directly. Now Comcast will offer Netflix subscriptions within more of its Xfinity cable packages.
Verizon (VZ) has a similar deal for its FiOS subscribers. In February, Verizon began to offer a year of free Netflix to customers who sign up for internet, TV and phone services.
Netflix is now available as a channel on FiOS as well, meaning people can easily log in to Netflix directly through the TV instead of going through a mobile device or a box, like Roku (ROKU) or Google's Chromecast.
Media companies — on both the content production and distribution sides — seem to realize that they have to make nice with Netflix because the company has so many shows that people want.
"Jessica Jones." "Stranger Things." "The Crown." "Orange is the New Black." "13 Reasons Why." The list keeps going.
That's one reason Netflix got even more good news on Friday, ahead of its earnings report. Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft raised his price target on Netflix to $350 a share, nearly 15% higher than where it closed on Thursday.
"Netflix has changed the industry in a profound way and in doing so has given itself a significant lead, making it very difficult for the traditional media companies, or even other big tech companies, to catch up," Kraft wrote.
Netflix is no longer a plucky upstart media underdog. Yes, it continues to face tough competition from Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL) and the Big Media-backed streaming service Hulu. (Time Warner (TWX), the parent company of CNNMoney, has a stake in Hulu.)
Another Hulu backer, Disney (DIS), aims to launch its own streaming service in late 2019. And Disney may wind up offering content from 21st Century Fox (FOXA), a Hulu investor, if its deal to buy Fox's movie business is approved.
But Netflix is now worth $136 billion, more than many of its media rivals.
It's twice as valuable as Fox, which has a market cap of $67.8 billion. Time Warner's market value is just above $75 billion. Corporate cousins (and possible merger partners) CBS (CBS) and Viacom (VIAB) are worth only $31.7 billion — combined.
Netflix could soon top even Comcast's market value. Comcast is worth $153 billion. And it's heading in the opposite direction from Netflix. The stock has plunged nearly 20%.
Say it again, Mel. It's good to be the king. Now if only I could stream the movie on Netflix.
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