To say that Netflix’s [NFLX] Q1 earnings were an unmitigated disaster would be an understatement, considering subscriber numbers actually fell for the first time in 10 years.
Is there any way back to the top for the streaming giant?
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Bring out the wildcard!
Let’s rip off the band-aid and get the ugly out of the way:
EPS: $3.53 versus $2.89 expected
Revenue: $7.87bn versus $7.93bn expected
Global paid net subscriber additions: a loss of 200,000 compared with 2.73 million expected additions.
So, it’s not looking all that great, but is it time to throw in the towel?
Earnings were through the roof, and don’t forget that Netflix just shut down services in Russia due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. These paid memberships resulted in a loss of 700,000 subscribers. Excluding that impact, the company said it would have seen 500,000 net additions during the most recent quarter.
But forget all that, because I’ve got a wildcard play: Netflix should buy Roku [ROKU].
Look at it this way — and ignore the antitrust question for now:
Netflix already owns 50% of streaming time, and despite rising competition and loud-mouths on Twitter [TWTR], not everyone is actually cutting that cord. In fact, according to a recent study in the UK, streaming subscribers were keeping Netflix and cutting Disney+ [DIS], with cancellations of the House of Mouse’s streaming service tripling in Q1.
Buying Roku is doable at its current $15bn market cap. In one fell swoop, Netflix can add advertising to its roster without compromising its core product. It also gets to gatekeep distribution of its rivals’ products to Roku’s 60 million+ monthly active users.
I’m not saying this is likely, but with Netflix in dire straits from an investor’s point of view, down 42% year-to-date, it might be time to get aggressive.
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