Netflix Rises on Analyst Optimism About Subscriber Gains

'House of Cards'
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright star in Netflix Inc.'s "House of Cards." Photographer: Melinda Sue Gordon/Netflix via Bloomberg

Netflix Inc., the largest subscription video-streaming service, rose to its highest in more than 23 months as expectations for strong customer growth prompted Barclays Plc to boost its price target for the shares.

Netflix advanced 5.4 percent to $257.26 at the close in New York, the highest level since Aug. 3, 2011. The shares have more than doubled this year, making the Los Gatos, California-based company the top performer in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in 2013.

Netflix, which is adding original programming such as “House of Cards” starring Kevin Spacey, may report second-quarter results showing strong growth in new viewers, said Anthony DiClemente, an analyst for Barclays in New York. The company, which is scheduled to report earnings on July 22, also is benefiting as people use the service on mobile devices.

DiClemente, who rates the shares the equivalent of hold, raised his price target to $250 from $220, in an investor note.

Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings has called “Arrested Development” and other “Netflix originals” integral to his strategy for transforming the company from a purveyor of rerun programming into a Web-based television network offering a mix of Hollywood movies and new shows, comparable to Time Warner Inc.’s HBO.

Netflix had more than 36 million streaming customers in 40 countries as of March 31.

The streaming service is in talks for another season of “Arrested Development,” Brian Grazer, co-chairman of the production company, Imagine Entertainment, said.

“Arrested Development”

“We are in conversations with them to do another,” Grazer said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. “They are interested in doing that.”

Netflix declined to comment on the negotiations, said Joris Evers, a spokesman.

“We have said before that we’d be interested in doing another season of ‘Arrested Development’ if it is logistically possible,” Evers said.

All-new episodes of the show and the horror series “Hemlock Grove” began streaming on Netflix in the second quarter, and Hastings has said both exceeded viewing expectations, without offering numbers. The revived “Arrested Development,” produced with 21st Century Fox Inc., follows the comedic exploits of the Bluth family. Hastings originally said it was a one-season undertaking.

Investors are expected to focus on subscriber figures to see if the company has parlayed its original programs into new signups and better customer retention. Netflix makes it easy to sign up for a first month free and then quit.

The company recently ordered a second season of “Orange Is the New Black” and “Hemlock Grove,” joining new orders for “House of Cards,” and “Lilyhammer.”