Netflix Shares Exceed $600 For First Time on China Speculation

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings

Netflix's climbing stock price has made it a more valuable company than either CBS or Viacom.

A report saying Netflix is seeking a partner to make it easier to break into China sent shares of the streaming-media giant surging 4.5 percent Friday, enough to close above $600 per share for the first time.

Netflix shares hit an all-time high of $618.44 on Friday before closing at $613.16, giving the company a whopping $37.2 billion market capitalization, making it a more valuable entity than either CBS or Viacom and about $1 billion shy of Sony.

It was less than a month ago that Netflix celebrated its stock exceeding $500 for the first time. The surge since then has made Netflix more valuable than Lionsgate, DreamWorks Animation, Imax, Discovery Communications and AMC Networks, combined.

Friday's catalyst was a report that Netflix is considering a partnership with Wasu Media to launch a streaming-media service in China, where there are 649 million Internet surfers. Wasu is a company backed by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma.

Shares of Netflix have advanced more than 15,000 percent since 2002, when the stock traded for less than $4 a share and investors worried that competition from Wal-Mart and others would put it out of business.

Reed Hastings, the company's CEO, co-founded Netflix 18 years ago and today it has more than 59.6 million paying subscribers to its streaming service worldwide, though none yet in China.