Cramer: 'I love the clarity of vision' from Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on A.I. and avoiding ads

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CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday that Netflix‘s earnings call fostered optimism about a company he once called “an open sore on the market.”

“I love the call, I love the clarity of vision,” Cramer said on “Squawk on the Street,” referring to the video streaming giant’s conference call with analysts Tuesday afternoon after releasing better-than-expected fourth-quarter results.

Netflix, after the bell on Tuesday, topped estimates on the top and bottom lines in Q4. However, it did issue disappointing guidance for the first quarter.

The company also said it added 8.76 million paying global subscribers during Q4, more than the 7.6 million that analysts had expected. But it did note increased competition in the U.S., and more difficulties globally after Disney+ launches across Europe in March.

Shares of Netflix, which had climbed more than 2% in the premarket, turned lower at Wednesday’s open on Wall Street. The stock was down 2% in late-morning trading.

“It’s not great, it’s not bad,” Cramer said of the stock, which has been relatively flat over the past 12 months.

However, Cramer said the standout moments on the call came from CEO Reed Hastings, who discussed Netflix’s data integration and avoiding ad money.

“At one point, Reed says the edge is artificial intelligence, we know what you want,” Cramer said. “We know what you like and can steer content and get it right.”

Netflix uses customer analytics to predict what content users will like and pushes recommendations based on that, a move Cramer said was “genius.”

“Do you think that Disney has that? Do you think that Peacock has that? … No,” he said.

Analysts are paying close attention to see if streaming rivals will have any impact on Netflix’s results. Disney+ and Apple TV+ have already launched, while AT&T‘s WarnerMedia launches HBO Max in May and Comcast‘s NBCUniversal rolls out Peacock in the U.S. on July 15.

Additionally, Netflix has long insisted it won’t show ads on its platform and reiterated that point. “Everyone thinks ad money is falling from trees, it’s going to Facebook, it’s going to Alphabet, it’s going to Amazon,” Cramer said, adding Netflix will benefit from not integrating ads.

It’s a shift for Cramer who said in September that he had soured of Netflix, as it went into negative territory for the year, as rivals were popping up and there was a slump in subscriber additions. “Netflix has become an open sore to this market,” he had said at the time.

Disclosure: Peacock is the streaming service of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC. Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal.


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