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Netflix Rises to Highest Since July After Stock Upgraded

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) advanced to the highest price in more than two months after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock, saying competition from Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s Prime Instant service is “overblown.”

Netflix gained 10 percent to $73.52 at the New York close, the highest price since July 24. Scott Devitt, a New York-based analyst for Morgan Stanley, upgraded the stock to overweight, the equivalent of a buy, from equalweight. The shares have gained 6.1 percent this year.

The video-subscription service is not under direct pressure from Amazon.com in the U.S., Devitt wrote in an investor note. Because Amazon.com also uses its Prime Instant Video to promote rentals and purchases, it’s unlikely the online retailer will offer a standalone product that competes directly with Netflix, he said. Amazon would probably have to spend as much $1.2 billion more to match Netflix’s content, Devitt said.

“Previously, we were very concerned about Amazon.com’s Prime Instant Video offering,” Devitt said. “Prime Instant Video is all about value investing –- finding good content at low prices and offering more incentive for consumers to buy a Kindle Fire.”

The value of Netflix’s domestic business “is enough to support the stock at current levels,” he added.

Customer Satisfaction

The upgrade follows praise for Netflix last week from Citigroup Inc. for improving its customer-satisfaction rating after grappling with issues on that front last year.

Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, has been acquiring exclusive content to fend off Amazon.com, Hulu LLC and other services and has more than 27 million streaming customers worldwide.The company doesn’t release the amount of content it has available for instant viewing, spokesman Joris Evers said today via e-mail.

“We have everything Amazon has - and lots more,” including exclusive movies from independent studios Relativity Media, Open Road, Film District and others, Jonathan Friedland, another Netflix spokesman, said in an e-mail. Netflix viewers also get exclusive content from the CW Network, AMC Networks and Walt Disney’s ABC network, including “Revenge,” “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men,” Friedland said.

Amazon in August said it had more than 25,000 movies and TV episodes for free streaming.

To contact the reporters on this story: Niamh Ring in New York at nring@bloomberg.net; Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Miller at kmiller@bloomberg.net; Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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