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J Mintzmyer is a CFA candidate (testing Level 2) and investment enthusiast who utilizes Seeking Alpha to provide a free exchange of trading and investment ideas and to provide online visibility for his developing business. Founder and President of Mintzmyer Investments LLC, a financial services... More
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  • Amazon ‘Kid-Gloves' Insanity Continues

    I'm posting this at around 5pm, prior to the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) conference call, but after witnessing the Q4-13 results and the subsequent market reaction. This reflects my initial results after reading the results and watching the market impact.

    I'm choosing an instablog post so that I can more freely express my feelings. Keep in mind I have puts, slightly itm, so I have a vested interest in this company.

    Although initially only suffering a muted impact, Amazon is currently down almost 8%. However, this needs to be taken in problem context-via 2 metrics:

    First- AMZN was up 4.9% on an insanely undeserved tech bounce brought about by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Taking this away makes Amazon's true hit closer to only -3%. Remember that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), arguable the hottest tech company and ironically also the biggest large value play in the world missed by far less than Amazon (and beat EPS markedly!) and got hit for a 9-10%.

    Secondly- AMZN was at $363 after Q3-13 results, so the current market pricing has actually made a 0% impact to Amazon since their last publicly available report.

    Amazon's Multiples are Unexplainable- even P/S

    As I've mentioned before in previous coverage, Amazon is valued almost entirely on sales. Profits are practically non-existent. Amazon lost money in 2012 and earned a total of 59c in 2013. That's a Price-to-earnings of 683 based on the pre-earnings price of $403. If you ask anyone on Wall Street they will say "yes, AMZN is valued on SALES, not profits," but what they fail to realize is the sales multiples are also insane.

    The only logical way to value Amazon is by sales. Fair enough. Amazon is an online retailer with side offerings of technology. Amazon is best of breed in customer service, but its profit margins are lacking. However, just for grins let's compare AMZN against the P/S ratios of what I believe to be the top 4 retailers and the top 4 technology companies. Ebay (NASDAQ:EBAY) is also a 'decent' comparable, so we'll bring them in as well (P/S of 4.21, with a P/E of 24-if we're going direct 1-1 comps you cannot ignore earnings). If you have disagreements on my comps, feel free to substitute your own in, and let me know what you find.

    First, all of the above 8 comps have fantastic profit margins and earnings growth rates. Amazon's comparable 5 and 10 year earnings growth rates are abysmal. Amazon hardly has the benefit of a 'profit margin.' Anyone who thinks the above comps are 'unfair' to Amazon is operating on an entirely different playing field, albeit not too far off the broad market's "field."

    The more important question is: "What true mix is Amazon?" I believe that in the most optimistic scenario AMZN is 75% retail and 25% tech. I believe the 'fair' split is close to 90/10.

    What valuations do the 'best' and 'fair' bring? 1.39 P/S and 0.88 P/S respectively.

    AMZN has TTM sales of $74.45B and mid-level forward estimates of $91.64B. First of all-the mid-level forward estimates are insane. Amazon will be lucky to achieve 18% y/y growth, let alone 23.1%, but for the sake of optimism, let's assume they both make the sales guidance and deserve the forward P/S.

    That brings a 'fair' to 'best' value for AMZN of $80.6B to $127.4B, or roughly $172 to $271.

    Assuming the mid-point, that's over 40% down from where they are currently trading. Currently AMZN is trading assuming tech/retail split of 40/60% (1.89 forward P/S). That's assuming both the forward growth is met AND the forward P/S is applied over a TTM P/S.

    Amazon Had No Excuse to Miss

    Amazon had virtually every tailwind imaginable. GDP is picking up, unemployment is down, B&M retailers suffered, record online visits, record package deliveries, extreme winter weather effect, new Kindle launches, new console launch season for gamers, Prime video upgrades, AWS expansion.

    I probably missed a few tailwinds, but the fact is AMZN had it extremely easy this winter. On company reputation and popularity alone combined with the above elements, a ham sandwich could have given Amazon 15%+ y/y sales.

    Q1 Forecast is Atrocious

    As we all know, forward guidance is everything. Amazon has guided for a 13-24% y/y gain in sales. 24% gain is hot. 13% gain is an unmitigated disaster. AMZN is clearly hoping analysts pick a high mid-point here, instead of the more likely range of 14-18%.

    What Thesis?

    The way I see it, Amazon has just received a free pass on the only metric that matters (apparently). Amazon is once again guiding for an earnings free quarter (-$200M to +$200M in profit for Q1-14), and attempting to pump every possible 'social media' and 'web payments' coattail they can.

    Trade Actions?

    I cannot in good faith recommend anything on Amazon (AMZN). This is perhaps the most broken stock I've ever witnessed on Wall Street. Sure Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Facebook (FB) have huge multiples, but they also represent amazing new technologies. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is on a run, but their earnings and revenues are skyrocketing. Amazon has been receiving a free pass for over a decade, and the sales growth thesis finally is collapsing, but the market still ignores it.

    Clearly I do not understand this company. Best of luck to everyone involved.


    The entire above contribution is opinion only and does not constitute any level of 'investment advice.' This material is disseminated for entertainment purposes only.

    Disclosure: I am short AMZN.

    Additional disclosure: I am short AMZN via $370 puts for 7Feb14. I am long MSFT, TGT, AAPL.

    Jan 30 5:14 PM | Link | 19 Comments
  • Massive Downside Trade Opportunity On Amazon

    This is an extremely speculative opportunity that I wanted to share with my followers, but it's not something I really 'recommend' from an investment perspective (prudent management of money). Either way I wanted to share my thoughts on the trade and potentially get some feedback on my thoughts prior to expiration. Since it's such a speculative position, I didn't want to submit this as an official 'article.'

    After watching JCP, SHLD, BBY, M, GME, KSS, COH, TGT, BBBY, ARO-- virtually every retailer report disappointing results, I had two thoughts:

    1) B&M (brick+mortar) is getting killed by online-- namely Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)

    2) Wow, the whole retail sector is getting crushed across the board.


    After watching BBY boost online sales by 28% and still get crushed by over 30% the next day, I realized the market was on serious pins & needles with their 2012 top stocks. Hell, GME beat on revs and only slightly missed on EPS and they took a 22% beating also.

    This led me to four subsequent observations and beliefs:

    1) The stock market has a lot of underlying nerves/tension, especially with the top gainers from 2012: (BBY, NFLX, LNKD, FB, TSLA, GME all fell into this group-- 2/2 had reported mediocre results and 2/2 got massacred)

    2) Perhaps the ENTIRE economy is weak. INTC is hurting, AAPL is slow growing, car sales are tepid, home figures are jumping around, interest rates are creeping back up, unemployment #s are bad (14% according to U-6, which is the REAL measure imo).

    3) Amazon revenues are out of line with either a weakening economy or the quarterly trends they've established. Amazon is priced to not only steal massive shares of holiday shopping from B&M stores, but they are priced for a roaring consumer economy.

    4) Amazon trades at a clear correlation to revenues (P/S). No other metric can value or describe their recent stock marketperformance.

    Belief #1 was a major underpinning of my earnings trade on NFLX. My long-term thesis has been outlined in detail, but my earnings trade was based more on weak forward guidance. I also believed that NFLX had far more negative pressure than 'bull pressure.' NFLX beat expecation (slightly) and BLEW OUT forward guidance and they went up 15-16%. If they had missed, I firmly believe it would have been a -30 to -40% bloodbath. But anyways, my point on bringing up NFLX is that my belief #1 might be flawed. Perhaps not every 'huge flier' from 2013 is under immense market pressure. I suppose we won't know for sure until after AMZN, LNKD, FB, and TSLA have all reported.

    Belief #2 is pretty self-explanatory, feel free to debate if you will, but I think the facts are pretty solid.

    Belief #4 (coming back to 3 below) is also well established. Look at Amazon's revenues and stock price back 2-3 years. Pretty tight correlation. AMZN has no earnings, little free cash flow, marginal operating cash flow, no dividend, an iffy balance sheet, yeah... P/S is the only thing that sorta makes sense.


    So? Is Amazon's growth expecation far out of line? Check this out:

    This is a chart I made showing the past 4 years of sales growth and including the mid-point of revenue expectations-- $26.03B or 22.5% growth. Keep in mind this is the midpoint, range is $25.27B to $26.74B (18.8% to 25.7% when compared to $21.27B last year).

    The chart looks okay right? You see the downtrend due to law of big #s, and a slight uptick in Q3. Note that Q4 is higher than Q4 the year before and Q1 and Q2 of the same year. That's a bit odd right? Expected growth acceleration at the tail-end?

    Now check THIS chart out that shows the seasonality/cyclicality of growth:

    Notice the massive gap that holds steady in the range of 6-9% (6, 9.33, 8% to be exact)? Then suddenly (poof!) it's gone. Something doesn't add up here folks.

    Then I tried something else-- a fellow contributor told me about a strong Google Trend on the terms "Amazon Christmas" that showed a correlation to previous Q4 sales. That search term was up suggesting a strong growth in sales. However, I tried Google Trends for "" and "Amazon" and check this out!

    (click to enlarge)

    Ok-- so you can see the growth in AMZN right? But check out the growth differential from 2012 to 2013 (13.7%) and this year (2.7%). Not looking good.

    Now, this trends figure doesn't really tell us a lot as it really reflects more of a combination of both news interest and unsophisticated internet users. You'd be surprised how many people navigate to every site through google though-- and with Chrome or Firefox, it's easy to get into the (poor practice) habit.

    The trends imo are a good measure for unsophisicated users... and/or AMZN's new clients. The old/hardcore clients such as myself have been using Amazon for 5+ years and have it as a click favorite. My mother has it as her homepage! There aren't a lot of people out there that don't know how to use Amazon.

    That being said-- Amazon also depends on a ton of existing customers spending MORE. I don't have a proxy for that, but I believe that strongly correlates to the strength of the economy and retail in specific-- all signs show that both are medicre this season.


    In conclusion:

    --Seasonality and trends are projecting far slower growth, something in the range of 15-20%, but analysts are expecting 19-26%

    --Google Trends data is extremely weak (in terms of growth)

    --The economy itself and especially the retail and electronics/tech sectors are weak

    --Amazon is trading at P/S multiples so meeting and/or beating expectations is EVERYTHING to this stock

    The trade:

    I asked a buddy of mine-- if you have a trade with a 30-40% potential of being a 20-bagger would you take it?

    My trade is as follows: $370 Feb7 puts for approx. $4-$5 (I paid $4.20)

    If I'm wrong, and AMZN beats, they will probably expire worthless.

    If I'm close and AMZN ties, you have a good chance of breaking even (only takes a 6% drop the week after)

    If I'm right and AMZN misses, you will have anywhere from a 10-bagger ($330--17.5% drop) to a 25-bagger ($270--32.5% drop).

    This is the best trade opportunity (in terms of profit potential and related risk) that I've seen in my entire career.

    I've seen several chances to gain 50% in a short amount of time with something like USU or OCZ puts (many of my followers made lots of money on both of these), and I've seen a few no brainer plays like long straddles on NFLX, but I've rarely seen something with a 30-40% chance of occuring and a 10-25x payout.


    As I said, this is super speculative and scary, so I didn't want to put into an article. I'm long 4 contracts- if my NFLX trade (otm puts) had panned out, I was considering as many as 10-15 contracts.

    DISCLAIMER: I'm just sharing my opinion here. This is really risky stuff and frankly kinda stupid. I am NOT a registered investment adviser, I am just a personal stock blogger who likes to share his opinions on possible actions.

    Disclosure: I am short AMZN, NFLX.

    Additional disclosure: I am short AMZN via $370 puts that expire on February 7, I may add more or roll the strike at any time. I am short NFLX via $290 puts that expire Jan24, $300 puts that expire Jan31, and $170 puts that expire Jan 2015.

    Tags: AMZN, NFLX, Short Idea
    Jan 23 2:34 PM | Link | 35 Comments
  • Is The Market Really This Broken!?

    I recently sent this blurb to a fellow SA Contributor and have kicked around the thoughts with a few friends of mine, and decided I should share with the SA community at-large:

    What do these back to back plunges of BBY and GME show us?

    Beyond the fact that many analysts have zero situation awareness (retail and electronics are weak--duh!) and the market is overenthusiastic, this sets up the entire earnings season at a precipice.

    Companies are reporting things that aren't really surprising (JCP, BBBY, SHLD, GME, BBY) and yet they are getting dismantled in trading.

    Will the same hold for the high-fliers like NFLX, LNKD, AMZN, TSLA, TWTR, FB? Not sure, but if they are held to similar standards as GME and BBY we will see drops of 20-40% for many of them. I'm currently short NFLX puts ($290 weeklies and $170 Jan14s) as a gamble on more of these fallouts.

    On BBY, I have an article in the pipeline covering this already, but the results are NOT surprising by any means.

    If you would have asked me yesterday, "J, how will BBY do?" I would have said something similar-- i.e. sales flat to small decline, profits down due to weak sector. There's 2 stocktalks from August that confirm exactly this as my view (so you can eliminate hindsight bias).

    However, what I did NOT expect (and hence why I didn't make a $10K+ killing on otm puts) was the markets reaction to this news. It's really "no shit Sherlock" type of news. A great trader needs to know both things: the info (close range) and how the market will react to it. With GME I nailed both, with BBY I only had 1 piece.

    If the market is reacting this crazy to obvious news from BBY, we are in for some wild shenanigans over the next few weeks/months.

    Best of luck in your postions!

    Disclosure: I am short NFLX, LNKD, TWTR, TSLA, ANGI.

    Additional disclosure: I have various puts on the aforementioned. I currently have no position in GME or BBY, but may enter one if the market pricing dynamics appear attractive.

    Tags: BBY, GME, Retail, Services
    Jan 16 1:13 PM | Link | 2 Comments
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