Leading online retailer Amazon is reporting a 25 percent increase in fourth-quarter sales to $44.7 billion, according to the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Earnings per share likely jumped to $1.35 from $1, thanks to rising profit at the cloud computing business Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“Based on largely tepid holiday results elsewhere in retail, we think that AMZN captured an outsized amount of share,” wrote Edward Yruma, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities, in a report on Jan. 29. “It will continue to take market share and also benefit as total share accorded to e-commerce continues to grow.”
Yruma recommends buying the shares and has a $905 price target on Amazon, 9.9 percent above the stock’s closing price on Tuesday.
The transition from offline to online is nothing new. It’s the story of Amazon, starting with books in the 1990s and moving to almost every other segment of retail since then.
Amazon keeps punishing competitors by constantly adding new features and services to its logistics network and subscription offerings, ensuring it has the best prices, widest selection of products and most efficient delivery systems. Meanwhile, malls are going vacant as Macy’s, Sears and J.C. Penney close stores.
Prime memberships at Amazon run $99 a year and include speedy shipping (even on Sundays), digital content like music and video, one-hour restaurant delivery and access to the Prime Pantry grocery service. With the Echo personal assistant, the hottest-selling device over the holidays, Amazon makes all of that and much more available with voice commands.
Add it all up and Amazon isn’t just spearheading the continued shift to web and mobile commerce, but is bundling it all together in ways that no rival can match.
In a report early last year, eMarketer predicted Amazon would grow 13 percent a year through 2020, while none of the world’s other top 20 retailers would expand more than 7 percent annually. Factoring in all of Amazon’s businesses, growth will be even faster. According to analysts polled by FactSet, sales will increase 23 percent in 2017, 21 percent in 2018 and 18 percent in 2019, following 28 percent in the year that just ended.