The stock market had a slow start on Wednesday morning as investors tried to parse through economic data from various parts of the world and gauge its impact on U.S. companies. As of 10:30 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was down 5 points to 26,447. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) was unchanged at 2,907, while the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) was higher by 10 points to 8,011.
Earnings season is starting to kick into high gear, and streaming-video giant Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) delivered numbers last night that showed its ability to keep growing even in the face of new competition. Meanwhile, shares of CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) chugged higher as the railroad moved full speed ahead with its quarterly results.
Image source: Netflix.
Is growth at Netflix slowing?
Shares of Netflix dropped more than 1% after the streaming-video pioneer reported its first-quarter financial results. Sales were higher by 22% from the year-ago quarter, and net income also climbed at a healthy 19% pace.
Netflix continued to add new subscribers to its rolls, boasting a rise of nearly 30 million members over the past 12 months to come in at 148.86 million as of the end of the quarter. The company brought on 9.6 million new subscribers in just the past three months, and that came as a pleasant surprise for many shareholders.
What caused concerns, though, were comments about the current quarter. Netflix said that it anticipates only about 5 million new subscribers in the second quarter, with the company pointing to recent price increases that should result in elevated levels of churn over the next several months. However, with attractive new content expected for release in the second half of 2019, Netflix remains optimistic that its long-term growth trajectory remains intact even with companies like Apple and Disney seeking to make forays into the streaming-video space. Short-term traders seemed to downplay that strength by bidding shares lower, but long-term investors see opportunity ahead for Netflix.
CSX blows its horn
CSX saw its stock rise 6% after the company reported first-quarter financial results. CSX said that its earnings per share jumped more than 30% compared to the year-earlier quarter, with a 5% rise in revenue and a 2% drop in operating expenses helping to power the railroad giant forward.
Particularly impressive was the improvement in CSX's efficiency ratio, which came in more than 4 percentage points better than the year-ago figure at 59.5%. CEO James Foote pointed to "all-time high service levels" that "reflect the strength of our company's operating model and our commitment to providing a best-in-class service offering to our customers."
Some investors had been nervous that a tough winter quarter from a weather perspective might hold CSX back from its strong performance. Yet the railroad was able to beat back downward pressure by using longer trains, allowing it to adapt its schedule to have fewer trains deliver the same amount of freight.
At this point, many investors are looking at the transportation sector as a gauge of economic activity, with fears of a potential recession ahead. Yet at least for now, CSX doesn't seem to be signaling any significant economic slowdown, and that has its shareholders celebrating a strong performance from the railroad to begin 2019 on the right foot.
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