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Amazon Stock (AMZN) Struggles to Stay Up

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The 2018 holiday shopping season is looking to be the biggest one yet. Deloitte’s annual holiday economic forecast projects total retail sales will increase somewhere between 5.0 to 5.6 percent, with online sales likely rising 17 to 22 percent during this year’s holiday season. This estimate may not be far from actual figures, at least, for U.S. online retailer Amazon.com. Adobe Analytics announced that $6.22 billion was spent online by the end of Black Friday, an increase of 23.6% year over year. Among the top sellers this year are the New Echo Dot, a voice activated personal assistant, and Michelle Obama’s new book called “Becoming.”

It would then make sense to expect Amazon stocks to rise. However the actual performance of AMZN has been very volatile this quarter, reaching a high  of $2040 per share in September to a 27% correction down to $1495 per share in mid November. Amazon is clearly facing some pretty strong head winds. Among other reasons, the Federal Cartel Office in Berlin, Germany has launched  an anti-trust investigation directed at the major retailer. The decision to investigate Amazon is meant to address the company’s alleged anti-competitive policies and practices regarding treatment of third party vendors on the platform. Furthermore, there are questions around Amazon’s use of data that it obtains from third party sellers.

But on the positive side, another part of Amazon’s business is skyrocketing. This is widely used Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) which is a cloud computing service with large clients such as Expedia, Kellogs, and Netflix. Even the Department of Defense trusts AWS with its information. This arm of Amazon has “generated $6.5 billion in operating income over the past year, representing 60% of consolidated operating income over that time frame,”  according to Evan Niu, CFA. And soon AWS could be worth $350 billion by itself. “AWS is maintaining its dominance of the cloud infrastructure market. The global market for cloud infrastructure services jumped 46% in the third quarter to $21 billion, with AWS leading the way with 32% market share.” To put the numbers into perspective, Amazon’s AWS has twice Microsoft’s 17% share and four times Alphabet’s Google Cloud at 8%.

Amazon also has a huge market share in online advertising. In fact, it is the third largest, only behind search giant Alphabet and social media site Facebook. But advertising revenue for Amazon is on pace to double this year. And in 5 years advertising on Amazon is going to be 28.4$ billion. The algorithms used to crunch data, and making sense of what customers want is what Amazon does really well.

Overall the company shown that it can grow its revenue faster than other retailers. According to CNBC, Amazon’s been growing sales at “impressive rates for four consecutive quarters, too, reporting year-over-year increases of 42.9 percent in the previous quarter, 38.2 percent in the December 2017 quarter, and 33.7 percent in the September quarter.”

“The secular tailwinds on both the consumer and enterprise fronts are massive for Bezos & Co. going forward,” GBH Insights analyst Dan Ives wrote in a note after the report. “The profitability trajectory appears to be accelerating quicker than expected, which, given the leverage in the Amazon model, is a ‘potential game changer’ that could translate into further multiple expansion.” Technology stocks are inherently choppy as they are more prone to market swings than utility or telecommunication stocks. The recent drop in AMZN is indicative of geopolitical risks and overall market sentiment. But if long term growth is what investors are looking for then Amazon shares would be worth checking out.
This author holds 10 shares of AMZN as of writing this post.
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