Do I Smell A Netflix Comeback?

Posted by · January 4, 2012 4:26 pm

Hoping to break stride with a devastating 2011, Netflix emerged Wednesday with some good news to start off the new year. After compiling its usage numbers from the fourth quarter, the battered company was elated to report that its members watched a total of two billion hours—approximately 22 million hours per day—of TV shows and movies through their streaming service alone.

To put that number in perspective, this means that each of Netflix’s 20 million members streamed one-hundred hours worth of content over a three-month period.

“With more U.S. members watching instantly, and added by global expansion, Netflix streaming hours grew dramatically in 2011,” the company announced.

Such news comes after 14 percent of Americans said in 2011 that their favorite way to watch a movie was streaming it at home using an Internet-based subscription service—a 10 percent jump from just two years ago.

What was lacking from the Netflix announcement, however, was whether such impressive usage stats were complemented by an equally remarkable earnings report. After a number of poor management decisions marred the company’s reputation—and drained its coffers—throughout 2011, Netflix could stand to start the new fiscal year with the wind at its back for a change.

If not, this could spell a continued downward spiral for Netflix. Despite promises of “complete seasons of great TV series from all the major networks and most branded channels as well as fantastic films,” a failure to win back disillusioned consumers and establish a firmer financial footing could cost Netflix more than it has to give.

Until things become a bit clearer, though, Wall Street seems to like what it’s heard so far. Netflix stock—despite still being down a staggering 60 percent year over year—made an 8-point (11 percent) jump before Wednesday trading came to a close. After topping out at just under $300 per share over the summer, Netflix stock now sells at a less impressive $80 per share.

Being a Netflix subscriber myself, I certainly hope for the best. However, given the company’s recent track record, I can’t help but remain skeptical until an earnings report proves me wrong. Until then, suffice it to say that I wouldn’t put money on Netflix returning to its former glory anytime soon.