Netflix, Inc.(NASDAQ:NFLX) shares went up over13% to $69.58 in Friday’s session due to rumors running rife that Microsoft is thinking of acquiring the company. The timing is apt for speculations because attention spans are short and trading volume is thin.
One theory is that the above rumor is linked to the fact that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will not be a part of Microsoft’s board of directors. This makes sense if the acquisition is actually going to take place, because that would make Reed’s departure more fitting. However, Reed may have stepped down for reasons of his own.
The market cap of Netflix is a mere $3.7 billion and the stock trades at approximately half of its 52-week high. In spite of fierce competition, Netflix still retains its unique brand presence when it comes to streaming video and widespread distribution on platforms like smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, Blu-Ray players etc. Microsoft could pay 2 times the present market cap and utilize less than 10% of the cash, due to having 469 billion in cash and investments, even though a major part of that money is outside of the U.S. and off-limits for acquisitions in the country.
Microsoft has recently made additions to the Xbox 360, turning it into an entertainment device rather it remaining just a video game console. The company has always been interested in Web brands – it tried to purchase Yahoo a few years back and spent $8.5 billion for Skype. These factors have somewhat added fuel to the fire about the impending acquisition.