Is Netflix's cratering stock actually a smart buy?
Investors eyeing Netflix these days might want to remember the old stock market adage "Buy low, sell high." The floundering company certainly seems to be at a low point; after Monday's revelation that Netflix had lost more than 800,000 subscribers in the third quarter, its stock having plunged nearly 35 percent on Tuesday. Other recent issues: A fiercely contested price hike and Netflix's failed attempt to split its streaming and DVD-by-mail services into separate companies. But Netflix's troubles have some analysts and commentators seeing opportunity. Is Netflix's stock actually undervalued now?
You should buy. This is just a rough patch: "Netflix is a screaming buy today," says Anders Bylund at The Motley Fool. Sure, the third quarter report was gloomy, but CEO Reed Hastings seems to have learned from his mistakes and knows how to get things back on track. Netflix is expanding into Europe and Asia, moves that may put the company in the red for a few quarters but will ultimately pay off. It's wise to forgive and forget the subscriber loss; better to "ignore the potential earnings stumbles and look ahead to astonishing results in the future."
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No. The company is a mess: Netflix's may look like a "screaming bargain," says Peter Cohan at Forbes. But don't be so sure. By the Price-Earnings-to-Growth (PEG) measure — which judges whether a stock is undervalued by comparing its market value to its earnings per share and annual growth — Netflix looks good at a PEG of .43. (Many investors think anything below 1.0 is a bargain.) But there's "one little problem with this PEG theory — it depends on whether the earnings forecast is right." I'm not sure it is. The streaming service might not be profitable in the long run, given how expensive licensing content is and how many subscribers Netflix has already lost. In short, "this company is in a heap of trouble."
"Is Netflix a screaming buy?"
And share prices are unlikely to rebound: "Don't do it," says Brendan Coffey at CNN. "Technical indicators are pointing to the conclusion that Netflix stock isn't coming back anytime soon," even if business improves. Expect the stock to remain stagnant and trading volume to be low. Those that wanted to get out already sold, while other investors are holding and hoping that they'll at least be able to recoup their original investment. "Even if the naysayers are wrong about Netflix's business, those who watch stock charts know the smart money is already out of Netflix and isn't returning."
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