Netflix global push grabs more customers than expected; shares jump

Tue Jan 19, 2016 6:35pm EST
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By Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc's (NFLX.O: Quote) aggressive push into international markets won more customers than the video streaming service and its investors expected last quarter, sending its shares surging 7 percent.

The dominant online video company said on Tuesday it had 74.8 million subscribers at the end of December and forecast 6.1 million more through March, fueled by its expansion this month into virtually every country except China, where it is exploring ways to launch its service.

The projection is more bullish than the 4.94 million average estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet StreetAccount.

Shares of Netflix rose 7 percent to $115.42 in after-hours trading.

Netflix, which started sending DVDs to customers by mail two decades ago, now offers its subscribers unlimited online access to TV shows and movies from Hollywood studios plus its own original shows such as "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black."

New customers overseas are countering slowing growth for Netflix in the United States, the company's biggest market. It added 1.56 million U.S. subscribers in the fourth quarter, below the 1.65 million it forecast, and less than 1.9 million a year earlier.

"Our high penetration in the U.S. seems to be making net additions harder than in the past," the company said in a quarterly letter to shareholders.

Netflix said it expects U.S. subscribers to jump 1.75 million this quarter. The company will likely benefit from the return of hit show "House of Cards" and a traditional bump in interest at the start of the year from people with new TV sets.   Continued...

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, speaks during a keynote address at the 2016 CES trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada January 6, 2016.  REUTERS/Steve Marcus