Only one downgrade for Amazon post-earnings; sell-side mostly defends

|By:, SA News Editor

Though its shares have tumbled, Amazon (AMZN -9.9%) has received an equal number of PT hikes and cuts (7 apiece) after missing Q4 estimates, offering soft Q1 guidance, and stating it's weighing a Prime price hike as it contends with heavy usage and still-surging fulfillment spend. S&P is the only firm to change its rating, cutting shares to Sell.

Benchmark remains optimistic about long-term margin expansion, and believes Amazon will still deliver 32% OIBDA growth in Q1. The firm chalks up Q4's major slowdown in EGM revenue growth (23% vs. 29% in Q3) to aggressive holiday season electronics discounting.

Cowen estimates a Prime price hike would produce $380M-$760M/year in gross profit at current subscriber levels. Morgan Stanley believes the churn impact of a hike would be limited, given its belief "Prime remains one of the best values around."

Susquehanna likes the fact gross margin rose again. Evercore thinks Amazon's paid unit growth slowdown (25% vs. 29% in Q3) is "largely temporary," and have much to do with Amazon's international media sales being behind its U.S. ops in transitioning to digital.

Amazon mentioned on its CC (transcript) active accounts rose by 13M Q/Q to 237M. 3rd-party sellers accounted for 39% of paid units vs. 40% in Q3.