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Earnings Outlook: Amazon earnings: Revenue comes into focus in 2019

Amazon is expected to ramp up investments in 2019 after pulling back in 2018. Read More...

Amazon.com Inc. is scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings on Thursday after the closing bell, and J.P. Morgan thinks 2019 will be all about revenue growth.

Operating margins grew to 5.3% from 2.3% in 2018, up 300 basis points.

“We look for Amazon to stabilize revenue growth more this year, which we believe is important as Amazon remains a growth story and it’s too early for the company to be in harvest mode,” analysts wrote.

“Amazon is reaccelerating investments after a ‘banking year,’ but we still expect 60 basis points of operating margin expansion in 2019 given the scale and efficiencies built into the business, along with dual high-growth, high-margin revenue streams in AWS and advertising.”

J.P. Morgan is bullish on Amazon’s AMZN, +1.38%   prospects, with U.S. e-commerce sales growing and Amazon’s hold on the cloud, with a 70%-plus share of market. Analysts rate Amazon stock overweight with a $2,050 price target.

Read: Amazon’s Whole Foods price cuts aim to build a ‘Costco-like’ relationship with Prime members

“Amazon is also starting to show more profit, with its high-growing AWS and advertising revenue streams also its most profitable,” J.P. Morgan said.

Wedbush analysts think Amazon is also the “master of its own profit destiny,” with profit growth robust in 2018.

“In our view, it can drop an ‘extra’ $1 billion to $2 billion to its operating profit line whenever it chooses to do so, justifying its lofty multiple,” analysts wrote.

Wedbush rates Amazon shares outperform with a $2,000 price target.

Amazon stock has an average buy rating and average price target of $2,128.32, according to 45 analysts polled by FactSet.

Here’s what to expect:

Earnings: FactSet expects earnings per share of $4.70, up from $3.27 last year.

Estimize, which crowdsources estimates from sell-side and buy-side analysts, hedge-fund managers, executives, academics and others, is guiding for EPS of $4.99.

Amazon has beaten EPS expectations the last six quarters, according to FactSet.

Revenue: The FactSet consensus is for revenue of $59.70 billion, up from $51.04 billion last year.

The Estimize consensus is for $60.61 billion.

Amazon beat the FactSet sales consensus last quarter, but missed the prior two quarters.

Stock: Amazon stock has rallied 25.7% for 2019 so far, outpacing the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.10%  , which is up 16% for the period.

Read: Walmart bolsters growing ad business with Polymorph Labs acquisition

Other issues:

-Prime Stylist being tested?: KeyBanc Capital Markets says Amazon “looks” to be testing a new Prime Stylist initiative, which would add to the company’s efforts in fashion. The service would be like Stitch Fix Inc. SFIX, +1.89%  , offering users the chance to build an apparel profile based on fit, brand preferences and more in order for a fashion expert to pull items to ship. Shoppers get seven days to try out their new clothes.

“We do not know how much of the process is data versus stylist-driven, but we expect that Amazon will increasingly rely on AI,” KeyBanc said.

KeyBanc analyst think any effort from Amazon in clothing or food is a negative for competitors, particularly those vulnerable to feeling the “Amazon effect.” Analysts think the Prime Wardrobe program, which offers users the chance to try between two and eight items before deciding what to purchase, has been successful. Prime Stylist would be another way of curating the merchandise for customers.

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“Amazon will likely continue to take share in apparel, and we think those most at risk are struggling specialty mall and department store competitors that have been under investing in digital tools and e-commerce,” analysts said.

KeyBanc rates Amazon shares overweight with a $2,100 price target.

-Advertising in a rut: Susquehanna Financial Group says Amazon’s advertising business is doing well, but has slowed.

“On advertising specifically, our checks are still general constructive (especially in the longer-term opportunity), but were more mixed on 1Q trends as Amazon appears to be going through some growing pains,” analysts said.

Susquehanna rates Amazon shares positive with a $2,250 price target.

-Teens love Amazon: Amazon has half of the online shopping mindshare in Piper Jaffray’s most recent Taking Stock of Teens survey, far ahead of the next brand, Nike Inc. NKE, -2.06%  

“We believe Amazon remains well positioned to take share of overall retail sales and having the support of the teen demo is critical in this endeavor,” wrote Michael Olson, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

And: Everyone is bullish on Amazon – what that might mean for investors ahead of earnings

-Amazon to shutter China marketplace on July 18: Coresight Research says Amazon would like to move this business to its Amazon Global Store and Amazon Global Selling platforms. Coresight estimates that Amazon’s e-commerce business in China was $1.37 billion in the fourth quarter, and $5.5 billion on an annualized basis.

“Amazon’s decision to exit China reflects the acceptance of the intractability of its minimal market share of e-commerce in China, which is dominated by Tmall and JD.com,” Coresight wrote.

Tmall is operated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. BABA, -0.83%  

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