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Consumer-reliant companies have suffered steep declines in their share prices this year as rises in inflation have caused countless households to cut discretionary spending. The streaming industry has felt this slowdown immensely, with the market’s titans watching their stocks tumble considerably since January.
As one of the founders of streaming, Netflix (NFLX 1.64%) shares have plummeted 52% year to date. After spending over a decade having a near monopoly on the industry, the company has been battered and beaten by increased competition from companies such as Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery.
Despite its fall from grace amid a stock market sell-off this year, Netflix remains a great buy for the long term. Here’s why.
Netflix keeps a cool head amid crisis
Netflix started the year with its first subscriber losses in a decade, reporting in the first quarter of 2022 a decline of 200,000 members.As a result, the company’s stock plummeted 40% in the days following the news.
While subscriber losses were certainly alarming, Netflix’s immediate response is what bodes well for its future. Rather than going into panic mode, the streaming giant got to work restructuring its business to prioritize profits over the long term.
After years of rejecting the idea of introducing ads on its platform, Netflix embraced increased demand for ad-supported streaming tiers and launched its own on Nov. 3. Additionally, moves such as planned crackdowns on password sharing and expanding its gaming division are ways the company is working to increase its revenue per subscriber and diversify its earnings for years to come.
In its Q3 2022, Netflix’s revenue increased by 6% year over year to $7.93 billion, while operating income fell 13% to $1.53 billion, which the company primarily blamed on the strength of the U.S. dollar compared to foreign currencies. The bright spot of the quarter was Netflix’s addition of 2.4 million subscribers, bringing its total to 223.09 million worldwide and ending the member losses of the first half of the year.
While the company has a long way to go, Netflix’s return to subscriber growth and absolute priority on profits is promising.
The importance of a long-term mindset
Netflix has had a transitionary year, with its business still in flux as it rolls out changes to its service. Consequently, the company will need time to see significant returns from its restructuring, so investors will want to play the long game when adding the streaming company to their portfolios.
The streaming star spent the majority of 2022 as one of the most expensive services in the market. In January, Netflix’s subscription plans ranged from $9.99 to $19.99 a month, while Disney+ was $7.99 and Apple TV+ was $4.99. However, the introduction of Netflix’s budget-friendly ad-supported tier at $6.99 earlier this month and planned price increases for both Disney+ and Apple TV+ in December will put everyone on a far more even playing field. Netflix will just need time for consumers to take in the market’s altered offerings.
In addition to planned password crackdowns in 2023, which will charge members to add extra households to their subscription, Netflix Games is also expanding swiftly. The company has snapped up multiple game studios over the year, partnered with major developers in the industry to create mobile versions of its franchises, and revealed a keen interest in expanding into cloud gaming.
Considering Netflix’s success in branching out from mail-in DVD rentals to video streaming, it’s hard to argue against its chances of eventually thriving in this new market. Again, it will take time, but Netflix is right to diversify its offerings. The company’s streaming platform started as a free feature of its DVD rental subscription, just as Netflix Games has. Netflix could easily use its tried and true strategy once again and eventually spin Netflix Games off into its own service to create an additional revenue stream.
Netflix’s stock has taken a deep dive in 2022, resulting in a price-to-earnings ratio of 25.54 as of Nov. 21. With subscriptions on the rise, the new addition of ad revenue, and multiple other promising projects in the works, Netflix shares make an excellent buy for investors for the long term.
Dani Cook has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Apple, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. and recommends the following options: long January 2024 $145 calls on Walt Disney, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2024 $155 calls on Walt Disney, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.