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Wall Street analysts buy into Netflix optimism amid Disney threat

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc acknowledged pressure from Disney+ after the company reported its quarterly results. But executives largely brushed off the long-term global impact of rivals that also include Apple, Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal and AT&T Inc.

So too did Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.

“Despite new services on the horizon from Disney and Apple (and probably others), we expect minimal long-term impact to Netflix subscriber addition and retention,” Piper Sandler analyst Michael Olson said.

At least four brokerages raised their price targets on the stock, with Monness Crespi Hardt being the most bullish, hiking it by $50 to $400, in-line with the median price target.

Netflix beat global paid subscriber estimates in the fourth-quarter, boosted by returning series “The Crown”, Oscar contender “The Irishman” as well as its adapted series “The Witcher”.

In the United States, however, the company’s growth missed Wall Street’s targets. Shares of the company were down 2% in morning trade.

The crowded market for video streaming is currently dominated by Netflix, but investors have worried about the impact of increasing competition from the roll out of Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ and Apple Inc’s Apple TV+.

This year, consumers will also have to choose among new entrants that include AT&T’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming video services.

Disney+, which launched in November, reached 10 million sign-ups on its first day and features roughly 500 movies and 7,500 TV episodes from the company’s family entertainment catalog as well as new programming. It also includes “The Mandalorian,” the first live action TV series in the “Star Wars” franchise.

Disney also said on Tuesday it had moved up the launch of Disney+ by a week to March 24 in the United Kingdom and in regions across Western Europe.

The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings on Feb. 4.

On Tuesday, Netflix executives said new competitors hurt traditional television businesses more than Netflix and its rivals.

An analyst at Pivotal Research agreed, calling Disney+ “positive for Netflix as it is complementary and a likely accelerant to traditional pay TV losses.”

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana and Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Li and Sweta Singh)