Apple could be preparing to buy Netflix, say Citi analysts

Posted January 03, 2018

Analysts with investment banking monolith Citi are predicting there's a decent chance that Apple will do exactly that.

Apart from Netflix, the analysts say there is a smaller chance (10%) of Apple looking at acquiring video game companies such as Activision, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two.

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"Historically, Apple has avoided repatriating cash to the U.S. to avoid high taxation".

With Donald Trump's aim to cut corporate taxes, alongside a one-time chance for companies to bring cash back to the U.S. from overseas without accruing a large tax bill, Apple will have a much bigger budget to buy new companies. However, "he points that there are strategic reasons for Apple to buy Netflix when you look at the financials, it would take a long time for the bet to pay off if it ever does". For perspective, Disney's buy-up with Fox was worth $52.4 billion. This was based on his analysis of Apple's and Netflix's revenue, gross margin, operating expense ratio, other income and interest expense, tax rate and share count three years out from their last fiscal year. In the US, Netflix now has more subscribers than cable TV. With the rumblings around Apple approaching a deal with Netflix, it's possible. The first: to put aside its hesitant, half-committed attempts at cracking into the streaming business and instead crash the party like the Kool-Aid Man.

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Apple's answer to this crisis was to invest $1 billion dollars in original video content production, as reported by Wall Street Journal in August 2017. That money helped Apple lock down an order for a reboot of the Steven Spielberg executive-produced Amazing Stories, as well as a coveted scripted drama about morning TV shows set to star Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Apple also sells and offers rentals to consumers. In the near future, however, Apple might spend a lot more on a major acquisition. If Apple were to do that, it would certainly be one of the largest deals we'll see in 2018 as the streaming service now has a market cap of $87 billion. As it stands, in other words, Apple is having to innovate its way into a space where the Netflix model is already dominating. "Netflix has won", analyst Tim Nollen said in the note. Get this: the Cupertino company has a problem, and that problem is literally too much money.

"The firm has too much cash - almost $250 billion - growing at $50 billion a year".

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