/Amazon Earnings Will Beat Expectations. What It Means for the Stock. – Barrons

Amazon Earnings Will Beat Expectations. What It Means for the Stock. – Barrons


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Wall Street analysts expect revenue from Amazon’s online stores will be 41% higher than it was a year ago.


Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

Stock in

Amazon.

com has barely budged since the e-commerce and cloud- computing giant reported stellar fourth-quarter results that were overshadowed by the news that CEO Jeff Bezos will shift into the role of  executive chairman, with Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy taking over the top slot.

The combination of that pending change, along with uncertainty over how the reopening of the economy will affect shopping behavior, has some investors a little uneasy about the stock’s near-term prospects.

They will get a fresh look at the situation after the close of trading on Thursday, when Amazon (ticker: AMZN) posts its results for the March quarter. Amazon has told investors to expect revenue of $100 billion to $106 billion, with operating income of between $3 billion and $6.5 billion, and about $2 billion in costs related to Covid-19. The Wall Street consensus calls for revenue of $104.5 billion, with profits of $9.54 a share.

The Street also clearly expects the quarter’s results to show continued strength in e-commerce. According to FactSet, Wall Street analysts expect online-stores revenue of $51.5 billion, up 41% from a year ago, with third-party sales of $21.7 billion, up 50%. Subscription revenues are expected to be $7.3 billion, up 32%, while revenue from physical stores is expected to be $4.3 billion, down 8%. AWS revenues are projected at $13.2 billion, up 29%.

One open question is what forecasts the company will make for the June quarter as parts of the country begin to return to more normal economic activity. The Street is projecting June quarter revenue of $108.7 billion and profits of $10.81 a share.

In an earnings preview note, Truist analyst
Youssef Squali
reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and a target of $3,750 for the share price. The stock closed Tuesday at $3,417.43, up 4.9% year to date.

He expects revenue to come in at the high end of the range Amazon predicted, saying e-commerce demand has remained strong both in the U.S. and internationally, given that the pandemic has been slow to subside. Conversations with people in the industry and strong earning disclosed last week by Snap bode well for Amazon’s ad business, which is lumped into a category called “other,” he wrote. He also thinks the market continues to underestimate the long-term growth potential of the dominance of the company’s two key businesses—e-commerce and AWS—as well as the company’s “emerging leadership in online advertising.”

Stifel analyst
Scott Devitt
is similarly bullish, repeating a Buy rating and $4,000 target price. He expects sees 40% top-line growth, a little ahead of the Street consensus. “The focus on the report will largely center on the outlook as Amazon laps the difficult prior year compares from the onset of the pandemic,” he wrote in a research note.

“Growth in a post-Covid environment remains largely uncertain for Amazon and across the e-commerce landscape,” Devitt said. “Our [June quarter] revenue estimates are ahead of consensus as we see tailwinds stemming from strong growth in new Prime members and diversification across geographies and categories supporting the retail business as economies recover.” He also said AWS and the ad business are well positioned for a recovery.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter likewise maintained an Outperform rating and $4,000 target. He thinks the company will post more revenue and operating income than it had forecast, an outperformance resulting from market-share gains in e-commerce. 

“We believe that a more stable economy, continued imposition of shelter-in-place orders in many of Amazon’s markets, continued expansion into the very large grocery segment, and outstanding execution likely drove strong results in Q1,” he said. “In addition, Amazon Pharmacy (launched February 2) represents a U.S. [addressable market] of around $600 billion, so any market share gains could provide further upside.”

Write to Eric J. Savitz at eric.savitz@barrons.com

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