Amazon Disappoints, but Touts Its Tablets

Even as earnings and revenue fall short, new Kindles spark hope

By Tom Taulli, InvestorPlace Writer & IPO Playbook Editor

Amazon Kindle FireThird-quarter earnings season results have been fairly bad for the techs. Just some of the notable examples include Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Now, it looks like Amazon is also feeling some heat. In Q3, the giant online retailer/tablet maker posted revenues $13.81 billion and suffered a loss of 23 cents a share (this excludes a charge for its LivingSocial investment). The Street was looking for revenues of $13.9 billion and a loss of 7 cents.

Your Best Post-PC Stock Isn’t AAPL
Your Best Post-PC Stock Isn’t AAPL

As for guidance, Amazon is looking for revenues of $20.25 billion to $22.75 billion. This is below the consensus estimate of $22.85 billion.

Despite all this, AMZN shares are off only 2% in after-hours trading. Then again, the stock price has gone from $260 to $223 over the past few weeks.

Amazon certainly had a busy quarter. It launched its fifth-generation Kindle e-readers, such as the Paperwhite. Amazon also struck a deal with EPIX to get access to the streaming rights to movies like The Avengers, Iron Man 2 and The Hunger Games. Its Prime Instant Video service now offers over 30,000 movies and TV shows.

Amazon’s cloud platform also continues to get traction. The company announced that over 300 government agencies and 1,500 educational institutions are now on the system.

But perhaps the most excitement came from the tablet front. On Nov. 20, Amazon plans to launch its Kindle Fire HD 8.9, which will cost $299. It has 193% more pixels than Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad mini and plays HD movies and TV (which iPad Mini doesn’t) The price tag is also $30 cheaper.

Then there is the Kindle Fire HD 7, which has 30% more pixels and also plays HD TV and movies. The cost? It’s $130 less than the Mini.

Keep in mind that the three top-selling products on Amazon are the Kindle Fire, Paperwhite and traditional Kindle. No doubt, this is great news. Let’s face it, devices have quickly become a strategic catalyst for e-commerce and have taken away market share from bricks-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy (NYSE:BBY).

So while Amazon’s Q3 was on the weak side, it seems like investors are focused on the device strategy — which appears to be getting lots of traction. It could also mean a better-than-expected Christmas season as consumers look to get high-quality tablets at very affordable prices.

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “How to Create the Next Facebook.” Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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