January 20, 2015 / 9:19 PM / 5 years ago

Netflix adds 4.3 million streaming subscribers, shares soar

(Reuters) - Netflix Inc added 4.3 million net subscribers to its TV and movie streaming service worldwide in the fourth quarter, helped by expansion into new markets, sending its shares soaring in after market trading.

The Netflix logo is shown in this illustration photograph in Encinitas, California October 14, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The online movie streaming giant’s shares rose as much as 14.4 percent to $398.90, after it also reported a better-than-expected adjusted quarterly profit.

The company added 2.43 million net subscribers in international markets and 1.9 million in the United States and said it expects to add about 4 million net subscribers in the current quarter.

Netflix said it would offer the “controversial comedy” movie “The Interview” to U.S. and Canadian subscribers beginning Jan. 24.

The Sony Pictures-produced comedy about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is believed to have triggered a cyber attack on the studio and racked up over $40 million in sales from 5.8 million digital downloads.

Netflix also said its first original feature film, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny”, would debut on Aug. 26 worldwide. The company expects to open the film on select IMAX screens the same day as it releases online.

Netflix, which plans to launch streaming services in Australia and New Zealand in March, is focusing on producing original series to fend off competition from Time Warner Inc’s HBO, Amazon.com Inc and Hulu, as well as on-demand offerings from pay TV providers.

Amazon on Monday announced plans to begin producing original movies.

Netflix has won widespread acclaim for its TV series “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black”, including a Golden Globe award for actor Kevin Spacey earlier this month.

The company also said it intends to debut a second season of “Marco Polo” in 2016, a sweeping adventure drama that has been panned by critics.

Netflix’s net income rose to $83.4 million, or $1.35 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $48.4 million, or 79 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a 63 cent benefit from a tax accrual release related to resolution of tax audit, the company reported a profit of 72 cents per share.

Revenue rose to $1.48 billion from $1.18 billion.

Analysts had expected profit of 45 cents per share on revenue of $1.48 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Lehar Maan; Editing by Simon Jennings

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