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EARNINGS-Netflix forecasts third-quarter subscriber additions below estimates, shares fall

Credit: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Netflix Inc on Thursday forecast paid subscriber additions for the third quarter below estimates, in an early sign that the lockdown boost to streaming may be waning as stay-at-home orders ease, sending shares down 10%.

By Lisa Richwine and Neha Malara

July 16 (Reuters) - Netflix Inc NFLX.O on Thursday said its subscriber growth during the coronavirus pandemic would slow even more than Wall Street expected during the third quarter, sending its shares tumbling more than 10% in after-hours trading.

The company also elevated Ted Sarandos to co-chief executive alongside Reed Hastings. Sarandos will continue his role as chief content officer.

For July through August, Netflix forecast it would add 2.5 million new paid streaming customers around the world. Analysts on averaged expected a projection of 5.3 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (https://bit.ly/2DQW1n9)

For the June quarter, the company reported diluted earnings per share of $1.59, below analyst forecasts of $1.81. Revenue climbed 25% to $6.1 billion.

Netflix added 10.1 million streaming subscribers from April through June as the coronavirus forced people around the world to shelter at home. Those restrictions led to "huge growth in the first half of the year," Netflix said in a letter to shareholders, but "as a result we expect less growth for the second half of 2020 compared to the prior year."

Shares of Netflix, which ranked among the biggest gainers of the pandemic, plunged 10% to $472.89 in after-hours trading.

With the new members, the world's dominant streaming service reached nearly 193 million paying online customers.

Netflix is trying to win new customers and outrun the competition as viewers embrace online viewing. The start of the pandemic sparked new interest in the service as people around the world were told to stay home, movie theaters went dark and sports leagues canceled live games.

New releases during the quarter included "Space Force," "Too Hot to Handle," a Jerry Seinfeld comedy special and new seasons of "Money Heist" and "Dead to Me."

Netflix's membership rolls rose even as it faced more streaming competition than ever. Walt Disney Co's DIS.N Disney+ came online in November, and AT&T Inc T.N debuted HBO Max in May, among other newcomers.

GRAPHIC-Netflix total subscription growth https://tmsnrt.rs/2WfzB5r

(Reporting by Neha Malara and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Lisa Shumaker)

((neha.malara@thomsonreuters.com; 646 223 8780 - 3401;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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