The streaming video company did it again. Netflix shares are up nearly 25% in post-market trading after it reported that Q1 earnings per share came in at 31 cents not including a one-time loss from a debt payment — far exceeding forecasts for 18 cents. With the $25.1M debt extinguishment loss included, Netflix generated net income of $2.7M, up from a $4.6M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $1.02B, +17.7%. The revenue figure is right about what analysts expected. The February debut of its series House Of Cards helped the domestic streaming operation to end the quarter with 29.2M subscribers, up about 2M from the end of 2012. “Some investors worried that the House Of Cards fans would take advantage of our free trial, watch the show, and then cancel,” CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells say in a letter to investors. “However, there was very little free-trial gaming — less than 8,000 people did this — out of millions of free trials in the quarter.” The political drama “provided a halo effect on our entire service and spoke to the quality of experience members can expect from Netflix.”
The company also had 7.1M international streaming customers, up about 1M from December, and 8M domestic DVD rental customers, -241,000. The after-market rise in Netflix’s stock price follows a day when shares appreciated 6.7%, closing at $174.37. If investors remain as encouraged about the company’s prospects tomorrow, then Netflix will trade at levels it hasn’t seen since late 2011. The stock is up 88% so far in 2013, mostly due to its report in January that it performed far better in Q4 than analysts expected.