Netflix and JPMorgan share post-pandemic potential

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Netflix and JPMorgan have similar problems and opportunities. While some companies were crushed by COVID-19, America’s biggest video streaming service and its largest bank emerged with more customers, cash and competition.

JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon gave clues as to his response on Wednesday; next week Netflix leaders Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos will get their turn. For both, the answer may lie in making acquisitions, small and numerous.

Netflix added a record number of subscribers last year – some 37 million – giving it more than 200 million customers worldwide. Sales grew nearly 25% to $25 billion, and the company says it no longer needs to borrow to fund its day-to-day operations. Many of Netflix’s stay-at-home viewers will also be JPMorgan’s stay-at-home savers. The giant lender’s average retail deposits swelled 25% over the past year, and it added 2.4 million new digital customers.

But habits are shifting, and Netflix is preparing investors for the fallout when it reports second-quarter earnings on Tuesday: It forecasts only 1 million net paid customer additions versus the 10 million it nabbed a year earlier. Rivals are upping their game, as shown by Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM. Dimon, meanwhile, reiterated during his quarterly earnings call that competition from old rivals and new fintech firms is – thanks to “good old American capitalism” – fierce.

Spending is one answer. JPMorgan can’t easily do big deals given its size but has been using small ones: Its 30-plus acquisitions this year, including ESG investing startup Open Invest and British wealth manager Nutmeg, nearly lap its total number in 2020, according to data from Refinitiv. With a market capitalization of nearly $500 billion, Dimon doesn’t have to give much detail on such deals. If some fail, investors can barely tell the difference.