By Lisa Richwine and Eva Mathews
(Reuters) – Netflix Inc said on Tuesday its global subscriber rolls crossed 200 million at the end of 2020 and projected it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its broad slate of TV shows and movies.
Shares of Netflix rose nearly 13% in extended trading as the financial milestone validated the company’s strategy of going into debt to take on big Hollywood studios with a flood of its own programming in multiple languages.
The world’s largest streaming service had raised $15 billion through debt in less than a decade. On Tuesday, the company said it expected free cash flow to break even in 2021, adding in a letter to shareholders, “We believe we no longer have a need to raise external financing for our day-to-day operations.”
Netflix said it will explore returning excess cash to shareholders via share buybacks. It plans to maintain $10 billion to $15 billion in gross debt.
“This is in sharp contrast to Disney and many other new entrants into the streaming market who expect to lose money on streaming for the next few years,” said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom.
From October to December, Netflix signed up 8.5 million new paying streaming customers as it debuted widely praised series “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Bridgerton,” a new season of “The Crown” and the George Clooney film “The Midnight Sky.”
The additions topped Wall Street estimates of 6.1 million, according to Refinitiv data, despite increased competition and a U.S. price increase. Fourth-quarter earnings per share of $1.19 missed analyst expectations of $1.39.
With the new customers, Netflix’s worldwide membership reached 203.7 million. The company that pioneered streaming in 2007 added more subscribers in 2020 than in any other year, boosted by viewers who stayed home to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
COMPETITION HEATS UP
Now, Netflix is working to add customers around the globe as big media companies amp up competition. Walt Disney Co in December unveiled a hefty slate of new programming for Disney+, while AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros scrapped the traditional Hollywood playbook by announcing it would send all 2021 movies straight to HBO Max alongside theaters.
Disney said in December it had already signed up 86.8 million subscribers to Disney+ in just over a year.
“It’s super-impressive what Disney’s done,” Netflix Co-Chief Executive Reed Hastings said in a post-earnings analyst interview. Disney’s success, he added, “gets us fired up about increasing our membership, increasing our content budget.”
Netflix said most of its growth last year – 83% of new customers – came from outside the United States and Canada. Forty-one percent joined from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
For January through March, Netflix projected it would sign up 6 million more global subscribers, behind analyst expectations of roughly 8 million.
Revenue for the fourth quarter rose to $6.64 billion compared with $5.47 billion a year ago, edging past estimates of $6.63 billion.
Net income fell to $542.2 million, or $1.19 per share, from $587 million, or $1.30 per share, a year earlier.
Netflix shares jumped 12.5% to $564.32 in extended trading on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Matthew Lewis)
Calabrio charts record year-on-year UK growth as demand for cloud technology soars during lockdown
Digital transformation acceleration drives cloud contact centre adoption of Calabrio workforce engagement management technology
Calabrio, the workforce engagement management (WEM) company, has seen a strong growth trajectory in the UK during the last 12 months, despite the global pandemic. Achieving 30% year-on-year sales growth, Calabrio International has welcomed more than 150 new customers, with the UK adding a third of those from a wide range of industries including many online challenger businesses. In addition, Calabrio has made strategic new appointments to build its customer support network.
Kris McKenzie, SVP, Sales, International at Calabrio commented, “Our focus on cloud-first solutions has resonated well with our customers’ need to accelerate their digital transformation and move their contact centres to the cloud in order to maintain business continuity. At a time of uncertainty when consumers need robust support more than ever before, we are witnessing first-hand the cloud transformation of customer services by organisations looking to deliver the next level in customer experience. Modern businesses and contact centres using Calabrio are able to provide exceptional service to their customers through disrupted times.
“Coupled with businesses operating solely online, we have also seen strong demand across the board from more traditional sectors such as finance, insurance, retail, consumer goods, local and central government departments. These organisations require an innovative yet reliable solution to help them manage unprecedented levels in demand.”
When Calabrio surveyed its customers recently[i] 72% of organisations stated they are either moving to the cloud, are already there or plan to increase their investment in cloud technology in 2021. In order to support forward-thinking organisations looking to optimise their investment in cloud contact centre solutions, Calabrio has made two significant appointments.
Niall Gallacher has joined Calabrio as Business Intelligence (BI) strategic consultant and will be instrumental in the design of services that drive value from data and analytics, helping Calabrio customers to solve complex business problems. Before joining Calabrio, Niall spent 6 years with Qlik as Industry Solutions Director. He has 25 years of experience in data, analytics and BI, 15 of which have been with contact centres for leading companies in telecommunications, energy and high-tech industries.
Graeme Gabriel joins as a presales engineer, supporting Calabrio’s workforce engagement suite. He will work with customers to ensure that they achieve maximum benefit from their use of Calabrio solutions, no matter the remote, on-site or hybrid environment. Graeme has international experience encompassing telephony, contact centre, WFM, analytics and customer experience (CX) across a range of sectors, and has held consultancy, advocacy and planning positions at companies including Injixo, Vluent, QPC and AVIOS.
McKenzie concluded, “We welcome both Niall and Graeme to Calabrio, during what has been an incredible year of growth for Calabrio as we supported our customers through these challenging times. This is an exciting and dynamic time for Calabrio as we continue to deliver the value of our all-in-one cloud contact centre suite, including call recording, quality management (QM), WFM, speech analytics and business intelligence suitable for organisations of all shapes and sizes.”
[i] TechValidate survey of 192 users of Calabrio. Published 29 December 2020.
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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp reported higher fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday and said it would start a two-year program that will change it from a holding company to an operating company.
The news and information company, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment, a gain from an amendment to pension plan and lower costs.
Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit.
It was not immediately clear if adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were directly comparable to the 46 cents expected.
Thomson Reuters’ markets are healthy and evolving, making this a good time to transition the company from a content provider to a “content-driven technology company,” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.
Workplaces have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and artificial intelligence has a larger role in professional markets, he said.
(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)
Tesla shares set to skid into the red for the year
LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Tesla were set to plunge into the red for the year on Tuesday, hit by a broad selloff of high-flying technology stocks and the fall of bitcoin, in which the electric carmaker recently invested $1.5 billion.
By 1029 GMT, Tesla was down over 8% in U.S. premarket deals after a similar drop during the previous session. The firm led by Elon Musk has had a stellar ride since 2020, which it began at about $85 per share, before reaching the $900 mark on January 25.
Currently trading at about $657 in pre market transactions, the stock has lost 27% from its peak, which is above the 20% level which technically defines a bear market.
Bitcoin has also swung into a bear market, falling from a peak of $58,354 on February 21 to a low of $45,000 earlier on Tuesday.
A Germany-based trader said he was “taking chips off the table” on Tesla as its 1.5 billion investment in the cryptocurrency could “backfire now”.
Analysts at Barclays noted that there has been a drop of conversations about the electric car makers in the Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, which could explain some of the loss of appetite for the stock.
“With only 2-3 total submissions on each of the past several days, we remain below the trend in attention that has come along with big returns jumps in the past”, the analysts said in note.
Other analysts have also cautioned against investing in the stock which remains one of the most expensive on the S&P 500 index at 163 times its 12 month forward earnings.
Graphic: Tesla shares selloff after multi-fold gains
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)
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