The Steaks Are High: Netflix Hits 100 Million

By Rick Munarriz Markets Fool.com

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX)fell shortof its first-quarter subscriber targets, but it's off to a good start for the second quarter. CEO Reed Hastings announced on Friday afternoon that Netflix had hit 100 million members.

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Hastings chose an unusual way to reveal that his company's user base had cracked nine figures. He posted a photo of himself, enjoying a steak dinner at Denny's (NASDAQ: DENN) on Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). Hastings has a history of celebrating milestones this way.

Image source: Reed Hastings on Facebook.

There's a Grand Slam on the menu

Hastings put out the celebratory post after the market closed on Friday, so investors will have to wait until Monday to gauge the market's reaction. It's still encouraging, even if it's odd to see the man behind the biggest S&P 500 gainer through the past four years eating alone at Denny's. The photo's caption suggests that it's the way he celebrated cracking a million members several years earlier:

Celebrating 100m members the same way I did 1m: a steak alone at Denny's.#superstitious

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The milestone is a pretty big deal, especially since earlier in the week Netflix revealed that it closed out the first quarter with 98.75 million streaming accounts. Its earlier guidance was calling for 99 million, making this a rare miss for Netflix.

Netflix on Monday initiated a forecast of 3.2 million net additions for the second quarter. It was 1.25 million net additions away from 100 million, and with the fifth season of House of Cards not rolling until May 30, it was easy to assume the company would crack that ceiling at some point in May.

"Netflix's subscriber tally should cross into nine figures by early May, and you can be sure that bears will let the market know if it's mid-May and Netflix hasn't issued a press release," I wrote on Tuesday. We didn't have to wait long for this welcome surprise.

Nabbing 1.25 million net additions in the first three weeks of the quarter is huge. Having another cult fave original on its hands -- 13 Reasons Why -- is helping, but with House of Cards on tap for next month, it's easy to wonder if Netflix is once again being conservative in its forecast for 3.2 million additions. It landed more than a million more net additions than it was forecasting in the third and fourth quarters of last year.

Hastings has more than earned that steak dinner at Denny's. As a member of Facebook's board of directors, he's chosen the social-networking giant before as his way to break news of a major milestone. It probably won't be the last time we see him posting on Facebook from Denny's, though the path to 200 million or even 150 million will take a long time.

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Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Facebook and Netflix. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.