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Expect A Positive Inflection Heading Into Netflix's Q2

Expect A Positive Inflection Heading Into Netflix's Q2
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Analysts at FBR have high expectations for Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) heading into the company's second-quarter earnings report but aren't recommending investors buy the stock. The firm's Barton Crockett maintains a Market Perform rating on Netflix's stock with an unchanged $145 price target.

One of the most compelling points to suggest a strong earnings report can be found in Google search trends, Crockett explained. Prior to joining Netflix's platform, most users will search for it and recent search trends for Netflix rose 2 percent year over year in the U.S. after declining 6 percent in the prior quarter (see Crockett's track record here).

Meanwhile, search volumes moved up in Latin America, most notably by 35 percent in Brazil (versus 31 percent in Q1) and 68 percent in Argentina (versus 60 percent in Q1). The same trend was observed across Europe as well, most notably in Germany where search activity rose 80 percent (versus 24 percent in Q1).

Asian search trends were notably higher than other regions, led by a 344-percent surge in Thailand (versus 77 percent in Q1) and 80 percent in India (versus negative 33 percent in Q1).

A compelling content cycle could have factored in the strong search trends, the analyst acknowledged. During the quarter the latest season of "House of Cards" was added and "GLOW" benefited from a good amount of positive press coverage. On the other hand, the strong trends could merely mark the beginning of an S-curve re-acceleration.

But That Valuation

Netflix's stock is trading at a P/E multiple of 156x on 2017 earnings and a 70x multiple on an EV/EBITDA basis. This may be a harsh multiple for investors to accept, especially when factoring in the fact that Netflix doesn't monetize its content as well as its peers.

Netflix doesn't sell any advertising and isn't expected to do so for a long time — if ever, the analyst added.

Bottom line, as evidenced by strong search trends across many regions, Netflix is seeing a "rising tide of interest," but the stock's valuation still needs to be considered. If anything, Netflix's strength serves as a caution for the traditional TV bundle.

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