Investors love Amazon.com (AMZN), but analysts sent it into time out after it recently missed on second-quarter earnings. This Zacks Rank No. 5 (Strong Sell) saw a loss in the quarter leaving many to ask: When will Amazon make money? Amazon.com has its hands in many businesses. It is one of the Internet's largest retailers, a media company with publishing and video content, and a technology company with tablets, e-readers and the cloud, among other things. The company really can't be labeled in one category anymore. It is certainly more than just a book seller.
Big Second-Quarter Miss
The company reported second-quarter earnings on July 25 and missed the Zacks Consensus by 6 cents. It was expected to make $0.04, but posted a net loss of $7 million, or $0.02 per share. Revenue rose 22% to $15.7 billion on strength in North America, especially in shoes and apparel and health and beauty. Customers are using the Prime program to buy items they once might have purchased at the local drugstore. Europe, however, remains weak.
Analysts Slash Estimates
Amazon provided mixed third-quarter guidance, but that didn't stop analysts from cutting full-year guidance. If you look at the price and consensus chart over the last few years, you can see that analysts always start out each year very optimistic about Amazon's prospects. They clearly think that this is the year Amazon will fulfill its earnings potential.
But as the year goes on, the estimates are slashed. That's why the consensus falls, instead of climbs, every year. 2013 is now following this same pattern, mainly due to concerns about increased spending on technology and infrastructure. The 2013 Zacks Consensus has fallen 43 cents since the earnings miss to $0.92 from $1.35, as 21 out of 26 estimates have been lowered. When that many estimates are cut by that much of an amount, the company is likely to fall to a Zacks No. 5 (Strong Sell), as we are seeing with Amazon now.
Growth Is Still There
However, analysts still see strong growth in 2013. Earnings are expected to jump 227%. In the last few years, it has been investing in its infrastructure, including a big increase in its distribution network. The company recently announced it was hiring an additional 5,000 workers at various fulfillment distribution centers across the United States. But with shares soaring to new highs in recent sessions, Amazon now has a nosebleed level P/E of 330. And questions still remain as to when all the investment will finally pay off in the form of earnings.
The Zacks Rank is a short-term recommendation of one to three months. Short-term investors might be better served to check out other Internet retailers such as Stamps.com (STMP) and PetMed Express (PETS), which are both Zacks Rank No. 2 (Buy) stocks. For those interested in the content business, Netflix (NFLX) is a Zacks Rank No. 3 (Hold).
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