For the second time this week, one of the world’s biggest and most well known companies blew past quarterly expectations at a time when many were doubtful. On Tuesday it was Apple (AAPL), and today it was Amazon.com (AMZN), the world’s largest online retailer.
AMZN announced earnings per share of 28 cents for the first quarter, compared to the Zacks Consensus Estimate at 7 cents. That accounts for a surprise of 300%. Some analysts were expecting a loss in the quarter.
As anticipated, the result was far below the year-ago result of 44 cents. AMZN has proved that it isn’t afraid to take short-term hits in order for long-term gains. The company’s operating expenses have been moving higher as it expands into new markets. Specifically, the company has been increasing its fulfillment centers in Europe, China and the U.S. Such things have taken a toll on year-over-year earnings.
However, most of the market was more concerned with sales anyway, and AMZN didn’t disappoint. Net sales jumped 34% to $13.18 billion, compared to $9.86 billion last year. Again, this was well above the Zacks Consensus Estimate, which was expecting about $12.88 billion. According to the company, the Kindle Fire remained “the No. 1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since launch.”
Now we’ll have to see if this report is enough to enhance the company Zacks Rank, which is currently a Zacks No. 3 Rank (Hold). The only way to do that is through upward earnings estimate revisions. There hasn’t been much movement in that regard of late. Out of 29 total estimates for 2012, there have been three downward revisions in the past 30 days and none to the upside.
As a result, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for this year has moved down by a fractional 2 cents in the past month to $1.36 per share. The outlook for 2013 is down 9 cents in that time to $2.66 per share, which also suggests year-over-year improvement of more than 95%.
For the second quarter, AMZN forecasts net sales between $11.9 billion and $13.3 billion, or growth between 20% and 34%. It also expects another stiff year-over-year loss for profit.
In addition to concerns about its year-over-year profit, there’s also some anxiety over the competition that AMZN faces. The iPad has already become a competitor to the Kindle, and there are other, smaller players. And don’t forget the competition within online retail.
For now though, the market can take some solace in the fact that the consumer came out to support Amazon in the first quarter, which is good news for the company and the economy.