What’s the thing that investors fear far more than antitrust regulators? Slowing growth. That’s one takeaway from comparing the stock performance of Netflix this year with Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook. The stock prices of all four big tech giants, each under the crosshairs of U.S. and European antitrust regulators, are up between 10% and 45% in 2021. Netflix faces no regulatory overhang—and yet its stock closed at $540.68 on Tuesday, a nickel below where the stock closed on Dec. 31. The S&P 500, over the same period, is up 16%.
It’s almost as if investors have given up on the streaming giant, now that its long run of steady subscriber growth has petered out. When Netflix reported its first quarter results back in April, it delivered lower-than-projected subscriber growth of about four million subscribers. For the second quarter, which Netflix reports next week, the company projects adding just one million subscribers globally to lift its total to 208.6 million.