Is Amazon stock too high?

Shares trade at a soaring valuation. Does AMZN deserve its lofty status?

By Kim Peterson Oct 25, 2010 12:42PM
Arrow © Photodisc/SuperstockFortune puts Amazon's share price into perspective: Even if the stock had a major crash that suddenly cut its share price in half, it would still have a higher valuation than Google (GOOG), Apple (AAPL) or Research In Motion (RIMM).

Amazon (AMZN), trading Monday in the $170 range, is at a very lofty price-to-earnings ratio (currently 68.8), writes Andy Zaky. "Even more striking is that the company trades at 2.31 times its expected 5-year growth rate, which indicates that the stock has gotten way ahead of itself," he adds.

Does this valuation "far exceed any semblance of reality," as Zaky puts it? Let's check in with some analysts for help here.

Amazon has been hammered a little this year for spending more money on building out its infrastructure and warehouses. But after its earnings call last week, there seems to be a sense that that spending will return to normal levels, say analysts at Caris.

The analysts are upgrading their rating to "buy" from "hold" and upping the price target to $190. "Amazon's core business remains super strong and Kindle and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are only becoming more meaningful," the analysts write. Post continues after video:
The Kindle ecosystem, along with the Web-services side, could become more profitable than Amazon's core e-commerce offering, Caris writes.

"We believe that now (with a lower bar on margins and higher-capex regime likely coming to an end soon) is a good time to buy the stock," the analysts add. "We would suggest investors to take benefit of any near-term weakness."

Back to Zaky, who crunches all kinds of numbers and says that Apple's stock clearly outperforms Amazon's. There's a bubble here, he adds. "Amazon will lose 50% of its value over the coming years," he writes. "At $150-$160 a share, investors are flirting with financial suicide."

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