Ahead of the Bell: Netflix's 2Q earnings due out

Associated Press

LOS GATOS, Calif. (AP) -- Netflix Inc. will update investors on how well its Internet video service's expansion into original programming is working out with the release of its second-quarter earnings.

The key numbers in the report, due out Monday after the stock market closes, will be how many more U.S. subscribers that the company picked up during the three-month stretch spanning from April through June.

The period included Netflix's revival of the "Arrested Development," a comedy that amassed a cult following before the Fox network cancelled the series in 2006. The Los Gatos, Calif., company simultaneously released 15 new episodes of the series amid much fanfare over the Memorial Day weekend, an event that management was counting on to reel in more subscribers during a quarter that is traditionally one of Netflix's sluggish periods because of better weather and the start of the summer vacation season.

Netflix predicted it would add as many as 880,000 U.S. subscribers during the second quarter, above the gain of 530,000 customers attracted at the same time last year.

But Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter suspects Netflix fared even better than management anticipated. He thinks "Arrested Development" probably accounted for an additional 500,000 U.S. subscribers by itself. Netflix also unveiled another original series called "Hemlock Grove" during the quarter, helping to lure in even more customers. Pachter thinks Netflix may have added as many as 1.3 million U.S. subscribers during the period. If he is right, Netflix will have about 30.5 million U.S. subscribers.

Netflix attracted 2 million more subscribers during the first three months of the year, helped by the popularity of another original series, the political drama "House of Cards."

Both "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" made a bit of TV history last week when they became the first made-for-the-Internet videos to be nominated for Emmy Awards in a best series or acting category.

In a sign that Netflix must be feeling good about the past quarter, CEO Reed Hastings will discuss the numbers and the company's plans in a live talk-show format that will be streamed live over the Internet beginning at 6 p.m. EDT Monday. The unorthodox video presentation will be hosted by CNBC anchor Julia Boorstin and BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield, who will ask questions sent to them through email and Twitter.

Netflix will likely have to post an impressive quarter to keep its stock soaring. The shares closed last week at $264.58, nearly three times higher than where they stood at the end of last year.

Analysts, on average, are expecting Netflix's second-quarter earnings to more than triple to 40 cents per share, according to FactSet. Revenue is expected to climb by about 20 percent to nearly $1.1 billion.