Damodaran criticizes Netflix’s business model

BVWireIssue #194-1
November 7, 2018

industry analysis
business valuation profession, valuation practice management, valuation standards

A recent New York Times article delves into the astonishing growth of Netflix, the video streaming service, and names Professor Aswath Damodaran as one of the few analysts who doubt the company’s business model is sustainable. When talking to investors and business analysts, the company touts its ability to attract viewers around the world and expresses confidence that, in the foreseeable future, Netflix’s willingness to assume more debt to finance its growing original content will pay off.

But Damodaran and a few of other “Netflix skeptics,” as the Times calls them, remain unpersuaded. Damodaran’s discounted cash flow analysis shows a serious disparity between revenue and money spent on new content. As Damodaran sees it, Netflix shares, which have been trading at around $310 per share recently, are worth no more than $177 per share. Other analysts agree, calling Netflix’s stock price “baffling” and noting how, until now, the company has been unable to match costs and cash flow. Considering the number of competitors with deep pockets that are ready to develop and market content, Netflix’s stock price is poised to fall, these analysts predict. A classic case of price vs. value? 

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