Netflix so far ahead of the game years ago, squares off with major rivals in space it created

Markets Associated Press

When Netflix emerged less than a decade ago it was the beginning of the end for the gorillas of the home entertainment world, whether Blockbuster and Hollywood video knew it or not. And Reed Hastings' brainchild still dominates, with reports that even one of the most innovative companies in the world, Apple, will soon step into streaming-style video technology that Netflix pioneered.

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New competition is on the horizon from Apple and HBO and there's a real-time rivalry with Amazon.com, yet Netflix continues to surge, its shares jumping almost 4 percent Tuesday.

Cantor Fitzgerald's Youssef Squali calls Netflix the "clear winner" as the sound of cables being cut grows louder and said Tuesday that he expects the company to become even more profitable than he had previously expected.

The upstart Netflix, now with more than 57 million subscribers worldwide, is the one everyone is gunning for as HBO, Sony, Apple and Amazon get into the game.

Industry watchers expect Netflix to break into Italy, Spain and South Korea soon, places with the lucrative mix of big box office numbers and plentiful broadband, with its rivals just getting their feet wet.

Fitzgerald's Squali upped his target price on the company's shares to $500 Tuesday. That's unchartered territory for Netflix, but shares are already up almost 30 percent this year, so it's moving in that direction.

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Shares rose $15.63 to $440.63 Tuesday afternoon.