Netflix Regains 600K US Subscribers In 4Q

By Salon Staff

Published January 25, 2012 9:45PM (EST)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix regained 600,000 U.S. customers in the fourth quarter as the video subscription service began to recover from a revolt against a big price increase.

Figures released Wednesday show Netflix Inc. ended December with 24.4 million subscribers in the U.S. That was up from 23.8 million at the end of September.

The subscriber uptick is a positive sign for Netflix after several months of upheaval that battered its stock. Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers last summer after raising its U.S. prices by as much as 60 percent.

The fallout contributed to a 14 percent decrease in Netflix's fourth-quarter earnings.

Netflix made $40.7 million, or 73 cents per share, in the final three months of last year. That compares with income of $47.1 million, or 87 cents per share, a year earlier.

Investors had been bracing for a bigger drop-off. The company's performance easily exceeded the average earnings estimate of 54 cents per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Fourth-quarter revenue climbed 47 percent from the previous year to $876 million — $19 million above analyst projections.

Netflix's stock soared $11.63, or more than 12 percent, to $106.67 in extended trading. During the regular session, it increased $2.37, up 2.6 percent.

The stock still has a long way to go to return to its peak of nearly $305, which was reached in July, around the same time that Netflix announced the price increase that outraged customers.

But the fourth-quarter results should help bolster confidence in Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who had been lambasted for miscalculating how subscribers would react to the higher prices.

Hastings had promised Netflix would work to lure back customers, and the fourth-quarter gains were even better than he had forecast.

Salon Staff

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