Netflix Subscriber Growth Zooms Past Comcast


While Netflix’s (NASDAQ:NFLX) stock is sinking on its cautious guidance, the company can still cheer the fact it now has more customers than even the largest U.S. cable operator.

The red-hot DVD rental service said late Monday it grew its global subscriber base by 69% last quarter, to 23.6 million.

That means Netflix has more subscribers than Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable operator and new majority owner of NBC Universal. Comcast reported 22.8 million customers as of the end of 2010.

“The virtuous cycle… of increased investment in streaming content, strong word of mouth and an expanding device ecosystem truly worked for us in the quarter,” Netflix wrote in a letter to shareholders Monday.

The continued addition of new customers can also be chalked up to record ad spending by Netflix.

Netflix said it expects to have between 24 million and 24.8 million U.S. subscribers at the end of the current quarter, giving it domestic sales of $762 million to $778 million.

While the company’s 87% surge in first-quarter profits beat Wall Street’s expectations, its guidance failed to impress. Netflix projected second-quarter EPS of 93 cents to $1.15, coming in well below consensus calls from analysts for $1.19.

Shareholders groaned at the guidance, pushing the company’s stock down 5.85% to $236.85 Tuesday morning. Still, Netflix has been among the best performers over the past two years, with its stock up 43% in 2011 and 132% from a year ago.