In early trading Netflix shares are down about 3.3% from yesterday’s $74.47 close – and flirting with the possibility of ending the day at a new 52-week low. Investors are still trying to make sense of last night’s announcement that it struck two deals to raise $400M, with a warning that it expects a net loss in 2012. That’s a change from its previous guidance to expect “several quarters” of losses. The company agreed to sell $200M in common stock, at $70 a share, to accounts managed by T. Rowe Price Associates in addition to its $200M convertible notes offer to Technology Crossover Ventures. With the deals “we have strengthened our balance sheet and remain focused on growing our streaming subscriptions and returning to global profitability after our launch of the U.K. in 2012,” CFO David Wells said.
But several analysts say that they’re pessimistic: Caris & Co’s David Miller lowered his price target to $59 from $77 since Netflix “is sending the rhetorical signal to the Street that the effects of its Q3 public relations nightmare have not stemmed subscriber defections, at least not in the near term.” Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says his earnings forecast is under review adding that the company’s “recent history of quick outlook changes suggests reason to be skeptical.” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible questions Netflix’s decision to raise capital just after it spent hundreds of millions of dollars to repurchase its shares. That “reinforces our view that (Netflix) has been buying stock to offset the dilution from its large issuance of equity to its management team, which has aggressively sold the stock with many options priced as low at $1.50 per share.” Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov says that analysts’ earnings forecasts “will have to come down.” But Credit Suisse’s John Blackledge was a lonely bull, saying that the refinancing “strengthens (Netflix’s) balance sheet and improves its financial flexibility” although it probably won’t be used to finance additional content deals.