Amazon investors forgive quarterly miss
The online retailer is again promising to deliver in the future -- and Wall Street appears willing to believe it.
Facebook’s (FB) earnings announcement Thursday topped analysts’ official expectations, but the stock still got pummeled, closing Friday down nearly 12%. Earlier this week, Apple’s (AAPL) quarterly earnings fell far short of analysts’ expectations. That stock also got punished, falling more than 4% the next day.
Then there's Amazon.com (AMZN). Despite posting earnings Thursday that fell just shy of analysts' forecasts, the stock has responded quite nicely, thank you. It closed up more than 7% Friday.
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Why? Wall Street may doubt Facebook’s continued ability to grow, or its ability to monetize users who are increasingly moving to mobile devices. It may wonder if Apple can sustain its high margins and astounding dominance. But Amazon is again promising to deliver in the future -- and, for now at least, Wall Street appears willing to believe it.
The uber-online retailer reported on Thursday that profits for the second quarter were 96% below year-earlier levels at only $7 million. And it forecast an operating loss as high as $350 million for the current quarter as it invests in building out its network of order-fulfillment centers. It has opened six so far this year and plans to open 12 more, the company’s chief financial officer, Thomas Szkutak, told analysts on the earnings conference call.
"Our operating expenses are growing at a faster rate than revenue,"Szkutak said. "It's a number of areas, including our fulfillment expense line item, marketing, as well as technology and content. We’re investing across the business."
The company always has operated with margins that redefine the phrase "razor thin," and investors have shrugged that off. And they showed Friday that they are still willing to wait as Amazon works to extend its lead on online retailing without focusing on profitability, at least in the near term.
Amazon has perhaps earned that patience by showing it is capable of going against the current market trend by growing the top line: While most other S&P 500 companies are generating higher earnings on a lower revenue base, Amazon announced a nearly 30% jump in revenue even as its earnings contracted.
Investors, it seems, are still willing to listen to Amazon execs when they explain these setbacks are just temporary -- the price that they need to pay in order to invest in everything from the cloud, where all kinds of e-book and other digital content now reside, to fulfillment centers. With Friday’s 7% advance sending shares about $235, the stock is again approaching its 52-week high.
Suzanne McGee is a columnist at The Fiscal Times. Subscribe to The Fiscal Times' FREE newsletter.
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