Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been one of the leading stocks in 2012, beating the expectations of many bearish investors. Building on its positive start, the company has rolled out plans to support continued growth. One of these steps is bringing more original content to its platform. Recently, CBS’ (NYSE:CBS) management stated that it is in talks with Netflix to produce an original series for the online video rental company.  This implies that by 2013, Netflix will have 5 original series to its credit. Although this may not be significant enough to propel subscriber growth alone, it definitely helps build a competitive edge against other players such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Dish Network’s (NASDAQ:DISH) Blockbuster.
Even with these new series in the catalog, the original programming will be a miniscule portion of total viewing for Netflix’s subscribers. Nevertheless in the future, it will be critical to see the popularity of these new shows and if couple of them become a hit, it could entice new subscribers to join Netflix.
The company also recently shared its expansion plans with investors. Netflix stated that it expects to have 60 to 90 million subscribers in the U.S. and become more than twice the size of HBO. These are grand ambitions as we forecast the company to reach a subscriber base of about 43 million by end of our forecast period, which extends through 2018. However it is interesting to see the level of upside that Netflix’s stock can witness if the company was to achieve its target in next 6 -7 years.
Even the low-end of this target presents significant upside opportunity. You can modify our forecast above to see that our price estimate can lift by 25% if Netflix can reach 60 million U.S. subscribers by end of our forecast period. This move implies that Netflix would gain more than 5 million subscribers each year for next 7 years (including 2012).
It’s ambitious but not impossible if Netflix can maintain its competitive lead, have success internationally and fight off competition. In time to come, other competitors can potential catch up in terms of content and therefore Netflix will need to continue to excel in other dimensions. These include personalization of content, bringing a social aspect to video viewing with help of Facebook, making the user interface more intuitive and easy, and penetrate a large number of internet-enabled devices.
Our price estimate for Netflix stands at $133, implying close to 10% premium to the market price.Notes: