By Paul Vigna 

"Oscar buzz" is for actors and directors, not stocks.

Netflix Inc. appeared to be a loser at Sunday night's Academy Awards. The upstart studio had the most nominations, with 24, yet it took home only two awards. In Hollywood, there is a burgeoning debate about whether the establishment is consciously keeping Netflix out of their club.

On Wall Street, nobody cares.

"For Netflix, getting nominated for the awards in and of itself is validation at this point," said Justin Patterson, a senior analyst at Raymond James.

Netflix, which began in 1997 as a DVD-rental service, has been creating original programming since around 2013. Five years ago, it began ramping up feature-length movies. In 2018, it started releasing some of those movies first in theaters, before putting them on its own service.

It has been an expensive expansion -- the company spends billions yearly on programming. But shareholders get it. When it comes to Netflix, "all the investment community cares about is subscriber growth," Mr. Patterson said.

At the beginning of 2015, the company had around 62 million subscribers, with more than 40 million of them in the U.S. At the end of 2019, it had about 158 million, with 67 million in the U.S. and Canada.

Those are the kinds of numbers, not Oscar tallies, that motivates Wall Street.

Over the last five years, Netflix shares have jumped nearly sixfold.

AT&T, whose Warner Bros. unit produced "Joker," is up 9.4% in that same time frame. Comcast Corp., which distributed the World War I drama "1917" through its Universal Studios unit, is up 55%.

Walt Disney Co. owns myriad Oscar winners via its Twentieth Century Pictures, Searchlight Pictures and Pixar units -- to say nothing of its moneymaking Marvel and Lucasfilm studios. Its stock is up 39%. ViacomCBS, whose Paramount Pictures released "Rocketman," is down 40%.

None of those media empires are going to be made or undone by the fortunes of one product from one division. Then again, none of those studios -- or even Netflix -- won the biggest prize on Sunday night. "Parasite," a film about a poor family infiltrating the house and lives of a rich family, won both best director and best picture. It was produced by South Korean company CJ ENM Co., whose shares rose 2.4% on Monday.

Write to Paul Vigna at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 10, 2020 15:28 ET (20:28 GMT)

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