Stocks to buy

Streaming media stocks gained tremendously in value during the pandemic years.

For instance, shares of streaming giant Netflix saw an 85.6% bump in price from 2020 to 2021, comfortably outperforming the broader market.

Though the pandemic-led tailwinds are unlikely to factor into content consumption, the industry will continue growing at a robust pace which is why it’s best to remain bullish on the streaming space.

Media stocks have been performing well since the start of the year, with the Invesco Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment ETF up over 4.5%. As discussed by my colleague Joel Baglole, there is a healthy uptick in spending on movies, theme parks and streaming.

Moreover, there is still a massive growth runway ahead in the streaming space, estimated to reach $330.5 billion by 2030. Let’s look at seven of the top streaming media stocks representing the industry’s crème de la crème.

DIS Walt Disney Co. $107.89
NFLX Netflix $358.68
SPOT Spotify Technology $127.83
AMZN Amazon $99.97
FUBO FuboTV $2.43
ROKU Roku $74.06
AAPL Apple  $156.19

Walt Disney Co. (DIS)

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Entertainment giant  Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) is having a blockbuster moment with its streaming services.

Its most popular streaming service, Disney+, has been a revelation for the business, boasting a subscriber base of 161.8 million as per its latest quarter.

Disney+ subscribers were at just 54.5 million a couple of years ago. In its first year, sales from the platform surged by 85%.

Disney+ is not the only streaming service in the company’s repertoire. Its hugely popular sports streaming service, ESPN+, saw its subscribers grow from 24.3 million to 24.9 million during the fourth quarter.

Another one of Disney’s streaming services, Hulu, gained 0.8 million new subscribers. For Disney+, though, the subscriber count dropped from 164.2 million to 161.8 million during the fourth quarter.

However, the drop is attributable to the sluggish performance of its Indian streaming service, Hotstar, which saw a 6.2% decline in subscribers.

All in all, though, Disney remains in an excellent position to grow its streaming division, which effectively covers the most lucrative entertainment areas.

Netflix (NFLX)

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Last year, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) had a rough outing, losing close to 1.2 million subscribers in the first couple of quarters.

It snapped its losing streak in the third, adding 2.4 million new subscribers, before the pièce de résistance in the fourth quarter. It added a whopping 7.66 million paid subscribers in its fourth quarter, blowing past analyst estimates of 4.57 million net subscribers.

The streaming pioneer is back in good graces following bold steps taken by its management.

Perhaps the most noteworthy of these changes include adding advertisements for the first time and cracking down on password-sharing practices. Both measures will likely contribute significantly to its top-line growth in the upcoming quarters.

NFLX stock saw a precipitous drop in price last year, shedding over 50% of its value. In the past six months, though, it is up over 40%, and with an even better showing in the upcoming quarters, expect the stock to continue trading in the green.

Spotify Technology (SPOT)

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Spotify Technology (NYSE:SPOT) moved to its highest point since August 2022 after it reported fourth-quarter earnings beating expectations for daily users and gross margins.

The music-streaming giant saw its premium subscribers hitting 205 million, roughly three million more than analysts’ expectations. Moreover, monthly active users shot up to 489 million versus the consensus of 478.5 million.

SPOT stock lost momentum over the past few years, with competition from the likes of Apple music. However, Apple music’s 88 million paying subscribers pales compared to Spotify’s massive subscriber base of close to 500 million.

If it can continue to grow at 10% to 11% on average over the next seven years, the platform could be on track to reach a mind-boggling 1 billion active users by 2030.

Amazon (AMZN)

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According to market research firm Parks Associates, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime Video overtook Netflix to become the streaming market king in the U.S. for the first time in four years.

Prime Video is essentially a value-add for users subscribing to Amazon’s membership program, though it is also available separately. The program has attracted more than 200 million members worldwide.

Amazon Prime had just 46 million members in 2015, adding over 154 million members last year.

Prime Video’s success is attributable to its vast content library, which grows at a staggering pace each quarter. Amazon’s aggressive acquisitions policy saw MGM studios added to Prime’s massive content library last year.

Also, the firm partnered with the National Football League to broadcast the bulk of the Thursday Night Football games. Also, it has ramped up spending on new content, having spent an eye-catching $715 million on its hotly anticipated Lord of the Rings series.

FuboTV (FUBO)

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FuboTV (NYSE:FUBO) is a leading sports-centric streaming platform that has been an incredible performer over the years.

It’s generated almost 450% sales growth on average over the past five years. However, recent results have shown a significant slowdown in revenues and earnings, which led to a major sell-off in its stock last year.

Despite a tough operating environment in the fourth quarter, fuboTV was able to churn out 43.5% growth in sales from the prior-year period.

The problem lies in its bottom line, which has been consistently in the red from the get-go. In its fourth quarter, it posted a loss per share of 52 cents, which is unlikely to improve given the current testing economic conditions.

Nevertheless, FUBO stock could be an interesting contrarian play at current prices, and investors could explore a possible shorting opportunity.

Roku (ROKU)

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Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) is a popular platform that connects internet-connected television sets.

The streaming-device company shed a ton of value last year, with the downturn in advertising hurting its services business. Despite the slowdown in sales from pandemic levels, it is still delivering robust growth in active accounts and streaming hours, a testament to its stellar customer engagement.

In its fourth quarter, active accounts increased by 16% to 70 million, while streaming hours rose 23% to 23.9 billion. Despite the substantial hike in its user base, its average revenues per user improved by 2% to $41.68.

Additionally, Roku has done remarkably well to shift its business to primarily a high-margin services model, which now represents 80% of its revenue mix. Consequently, its gross margin stands at a spectacular 46.6%, despite the weaknesses in the market.

Apple (AAPL)

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) operates one of the most diversified tech businesses, which never ceases to amaze.

With so many blockbuster products and services to its name, it’s difficult for investors to zoom out and evaluate every division individually.

Perhaps a division that has been one of the brightest spots for the firm over the past year is its flagship streaming service, Apple TV+. Apple TV+ has a global streaming market share of over 6%.

According to research from JustWatch, Apple TV+ grew 29% from January 2021 through August last year. On the flip side, Prime Video and Netflix dropped 19% and 14% respectively.

It recently delivered a rare quarter where it missed sales targets due to supply chain bottlenecks. However, its services revenue remained a bright spot, bringing in $20.8 billion for the quarter, a 6% bump from the same period last year.

Apple states that it has an incredible 935 million paid subscribers across all its services, a mighty accomplishment, to say the least.

On the date of publication, Muslim Farooque did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines

Muslim Farooque is a keen investor and an optimist at heart. A life-long gamer and tech enthusiast, he has a particular affinity for analyzing technology stocks. Muslim holds a bachelor’s of science degree in applied accounting from Oxford Brookes University.

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