Netflix Stock Price Targets Cut as Analysts Focus on Slower Subscriber Growth

Netflix sign  - H 2015
Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"However you explain the second quarter, it is hard not to conclude that Netflix is maturing," writes one analyst.

A slew of Wall Street analysts on Tuesday reduced their price targets on the stock of Netflix after the company, led by CEO Reed Hastings, reported weaker-than-forecast U.S. and international subscriber growth for the second quarter late on Monday.

Guggenheim Partners analyst Michael Morris cut his target price by $20 to $130, citing the "more modest subscriber growth trajectory." He explained: "We were clearly wrong on the near-term subscriber risk, as second-quarter domestic net subscriber additions of 160,000 came in well below management’s outlook for 500,000 and our 520,000 estimate. International subscriber additions and management’s third-quarter subscriber outlooks were all similarly below our prior expectations."

"However You Explain the Second Quarter, It Is Hard Not to Conclude That Netflix Is Maturing," FBR & Co. analyst Barton Crockett said in the headline of his report, in which he reduced his stock price target by $14 to $90. "We heard Netflix's argument that the meaningful second-quarter sub miss was all due to greater-than-expected sensitivity of consumers to reports of an impending effective rate hike," he wrote. "But we cannot say we find that comforting. Instead, to us this suggests the loyalty of Netflix subscribers is thin."

Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Graham lowered his price target by $5 to $115, but maintained his "buy" rating, writing: "We maintain our stance and believe weakness in the stock represents a good long-term buying opportunity given that the full benefits from Netflix's international launch and content investments have yet to be realized."

Cowen analyst John Blackledge also cut his Netflix price target, to $110 from $130, as did Jefferies analyst John Janedis, to $76 from $80.

Drexel Hamilton analyst Tony Wible followed the same path with a $10 price target cut to $110, but he also sounded more optimistic notes. "Netflix successfully raised prices, which is the key to unlocking long-term value," he wrote. "In fact, we estimate that less than 2 percent of the sub base may have left despite a 4 percent weighted average price increase.... Furthermore, the initial round of subs affected by the price increase may be more price sensitive than the second-half price increase cohorts."

Netflix shares on Monday closed at $98.81 but dropped more than 10 percent in after-market trading and also more than 10 percent in Tuesday pre-market activity.