Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) launched Amazon.se on Oct. 28. Thanks to an absolutely horrendous day on the markets where the S&P fell by 3.5%, AMZN stock had nowhere to go but down.
It’s probably just as well.
The good folks at Amazon managed to confuse the Swedish flag with the Argentinian flag — hint: both are blue, but the Swedish flag has a big yellow cross through it, making it very hard to confuse for the sun symbol in Argentina’s flag — while also botching translations from English to Swedish, forcing the company to issue an apology to the Swedish consumer.
“We want to thank everyone for highlighting these issues and helping us make the changes and improve Amazon.se. Whilst we are really excited to have launched Amazon.se today with more than 150 million products, it is only day one for us here in Sweden and we are committed to constantly improving the customer experience,” the company said in a statement.
Look, if you own Amazon stock, anything that happens in Sweden isn’t going to be the undoing of a $1.6 trillion company. Jeff Bezos could run naked through Stockholm’s streets and it wouldn’t put a dent in the company’s stock.
Of the 17 country sites, only the Netherlands comes close to Sweden in terms of the population — Sweden is 10.2 million compared to 17.3 million for Holland — and even that’s not really a fair competition.
Further, when you consider that in 2019, the company’s “rest of the world” revenue was just $31 billion, $9 billion less than the United Kingdom and Germany combined, the reality is that a country with 10 million people is a rounding error.
So, while I love the Swedes, it’s much like Canada where I live, full of friendly people that aren’t going to move the global economic needle unless hockey becomes the currency. But I’m getting off-topic.
As the headline states, Sweden won’t push Amazon past $4,000 anytime soon.
When Will AMZN Stock Hit $4,000?
In my last article about the company in September, I argued that my long-time fascination with Amazon’s stock hitting $10,000 had a much better shot if the company focused on “total stakeholder return” rather than traditional metrics such as sales and earnings.
When the company cares about employees, customers, suppliers, communities, the environment, and shareholders — in that order — you can bet the company will directly benefit from this seemingly altruistic attitude.
In 2020, it seems only shareholders have benefited from Amazon’s success, with Bezos and his ex-wife doing much of the benefitting.
“So, in 2020, Bezos and Scott [ex-wife MacKenzie] have seen their wealth increase by $84 billion, while 12.63 million Americans filed jobless claims in the week of Sept. 7 through Sept. 11. The inequality that existed before the pandemic has only magnified over the past few months,” I wrote on Sept. 22.
That’s pretty much America in a nutshell at the moment.
What’s truly upsetting about this is how much stuff Amazon sends to the landfill because it’s cheaper to put it in a dump than to turn around and resell it. CBC Marketplace recently did an exposé of Amazon Canada that demonstrated how perfectly good returns end up in landfills. Data suggests that five billion pounds of retail waste end up there each year.
And while Amazon doesn’t account for all of this, given its position in the e-commerce industry, it’s got to be one of the worst offenders. Supply chain expert Kevin Lyons painted a grim picture for CBC viewers.
“So you don’t get a sale price or you don’t get a receipt for it, but the earth is actually paying the price for this,” Lyons says. “If you think about the millions and sometimes billions of transactions that are happening on this space, the impact is incredible.”
Amazon’s Two-Faced Agenda Could Come Back to Hurt It
The company’s two-faced handling of these issues has yet to hurt its stock — it’s up 71% year to date through Oct. 28 and 39% on an annualized basis over the past five years — and, frankly, given the “me first” attitude of many Americans these days, I doubt it ever will.
About the only sliver of hope for Amazon detractors is that its stock has basically gone sideways since breaking through $3,000 in early July. That’s three months without a major move.
With the country’s Covid-19 crisis flaring up just in time for the holidays, the economic pounding it puts on many of Amazon’s customers could be enough to slow the freight train that is its stock well into 2021.
So, if you’re wondering when AMZN will hit $4,000, it might not happen until 2022.
In the meantime, if you’re a shareholder, I wouldn’t go out and buy more stock on the news that Sweden’s got an Amazon store. It’s going to need a better story than that to get the share price moving again.
As the religious like to say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
That’s how I feel about Amazon. It’s a great long-term investment, but much like the cigarette companies, is doing some serious damage to the planet.
On the date of publication, Will Ashworth did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Will Ashworth has written about investments full-time since 2008. Publications where he’s appeared include InvestorPlace, The Motley Fool Canada, Investopedia, Kiplinger, and several others in both the U.S. and Canada. He particularly enjoys creating model portfolios that stand the test of time. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.