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Netflix trading at pre-plunge levels

Wednesday - 5/15/2013, 10:40pm  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Netflix shares are trading at levels not seen since 2011 when it lost hundreds of thousands of customers after hiking prices for people who wanted continued access to DVDs as well as its streaming service.

The company's stock jumped another 4 percent Wednesday to a 52-week high and are up nearly 40 percent since the start of the month.

The cost of a company share is actually rising more sharply than the lead up to the all-time high near $305 reached in July 2011, right before the change the subscription plan for which CEO Reed Hastings later apologized.

Netflix later acknowledged that it had lost 800,000 U.S. subscribers between July and September, much worse that it had expected.

But Hastings never backed down on the new price plan and Netflix pushed hard into the streaming side of the business. It has also produced its first original in "House of Cards" to some acclaim.

Shares have come roaring back from south of $53, where they labored just last summer.

The debate has begun all over again about how best to value a company that dominates the market, but has competition lurking all around it.

RBC Capital Markets believes that the market still hasn't realized the company's true worth, saying that the domestic streaming business could generate $10 in earnings per share within the next three to five years.

"We continue to believe that Netflix has achieved a level of sustainable scale, growth, and profitability that isn't currently reflected in its stock price," analyst Mark Mahaney wrote this week.

He backed his "outperform" rating and $250 price target for the stock.

Shares of Netflix Inc., based in Los Gatos, Calif., rose $9.49 to $243.46 in midday trading.


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