AMZN: 4 Things to Expect Out of Amazon Earnings

by Alyssa Oursler | October 22, 2013 6:03 am

amazon box 630 300x225 AMZN: 4 Things to Expect Out of Amazon EarningsAll eyes will be on Amazon (AMZN[1]) this Thursday. AMZN stock has continued its gravity-defying climb in recent months, so investors will be watching closely when Amazon earnings are released after the bell.

Of course, the first rule of Amazon earnings is simple: They don’t matter.

Amazon stock investors couldn’t care less about the actual earnings figure that AMZN posts. This is evidenced by the fact that AMZN has missed expectations in three out of the last four quarters and posted a loss in two of them … and yet Amazon stock has still kept climbing[2], with a 35% run in the books for the past 12 months.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at four things to know about Amazon earnings.

What to Watch for Amazon Earnings

Expect Another Loss: Third-quarter Amazon earnings — for those who care — are currently slated for a loss of 9 cents per share. That’s a huge improvement from the 60-cent loss AMZN took in the year-ago period, but also huge downward swing from recent expectations. Namely, a mere three months ago, analysts expected 10 cents in profits from AMZN. Of course, I’ll again point out that this is shrug-worthy for AMZN — falling expectations are a red flag for most stocks, but par for the course at Amazon.

Revenue Is King: Sales, not earnings, are the key metric investors watch in every Amazon earnings report. For the third quarter, the consensus estimate is for $16.77 billion in sales, which would represent solid 21% year-over-year growth. That’s also a pretty consistent growth pace for AMZN, which also is expected to post 21% YOY revenue improvements for the fourth quarter, all of 2013 and all of 2014. Meeting that bar will be important for Amazon, as will giving strong Q4 revenue guidance since that quarter makes up around a third of full-year AMZN sales.

And Not Just the Raw Amount: Stifel Nicolaus, which has a “buy” rating on Amazon stock[3], says the big-time growth in higher-margin areas will be crucial to continued Amazon stock outperformance. In the second quarter, for example, “other” revenue for AMZN — which includes sales from non-retail activities, including Amazon Web Services[4] — only made up 6% of the sales mix. Still, the segment posted sales growth of 61% not factoring in exchange rates. That’s much larger than the respective 28% and 7% growth posted by the company’s main two segments, electronics and general merchandise, and media. More importantly, “other” comes with much thicker margins. In the third-quarter Amazon earnings report, Stifel wrote last week, investors will want to see that AMZN margin expansion continue.

Few Details: Beyond that, don’t expect much in the way of details from the Amazon earnings report. AMZN breaks numbers out by broad geography and by sweeping segments, but the details are scarce. Amazon earnings reports don’t break out specific numbers for AWS, for example, or even for Kindle sales … although Amazon loves vaguely bragging about them.

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

  1. AMZN:
  2. Amazon stock has still kept climbing:
  3. which has a “buy” rating on Amazon stock:
  4. Amazon Web Services:

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