Armed with an improving slate of content, Netflix Inc. could get its mojo back after a disappointing start to the year.
That’s according to Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson, who upgraded Netflix’s stock
to outperform from neutral Friday on expectations that a stronger launch slate over the coming months could help the company better engage and entice users.
The stock rose 2.1% in Friday morning trading, and has climbed 6.4% amid a four-day win streak.
Like many media companies, Netflix felt some constraints on its production capabilities during the pandemic and started the year with a lighter-than-normal slate of new content. That impacted time spent within the app, according to Mitchelson, who analyzed third-party data. The company also saw pressure on subscriber growth stemming from recent price increases and a strong performance in the beginning of the pandemic that pulled demand into earlier quarters.
Shares of Netflix are off 2.2% so far in 2021, to underperform the S&P 500 index’s
13.9% rally, but Mitchelson said that the company seems on better footing with its content releases as it looks to the remainder of the year and into 2022. His unchanged price target of $586 implies roughly 11% upside from current levels.
The back half of the year features greater breadth of content, and Mitchelson expects that subscriber growth could “normalize” in the fourth quarter. “Of note, 2Q results and 3Q guidance remain uncertain, but we expect any 2Q/3Q disappointment would prove a clearing event in any case in front of growth rebounding in 4Q21,” he wrote.
The company delivered a weak subscriber forecast for the second quarter back in April.
Mitchelson is also upbeat about the content possibilities in 2022, when Netflix could release new seasons of popular shows like Ozark, Bridgerton, and Stranger Things.
A recent Credit Suisse survey of U.S. consumers found appreciation for Netflix’s original programming, exclusive content, and easy-to-use platform, according to Mitchelson, who noted that only 8% of respondents cited issues with pricing or value.
“We also asked our panel where they turn first when looking for content to watch, and Netflix users actually turn to Netflix first more often than live TV – an important indication of how viewing habits have shifted,” Mitchelson wrote, saying that the company is in an “enviable” position.