Despite Good News, Amazon’s Shares May Have Peaked

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) could hardly have released more impressive news than it has in the past month. And experts who follow the company could hardly be more enthusiastic. It will expand its fledgling grocery business via the purchase of Whole Foods Market Inc. (NASDAQ: WFM). Amazon claims its major Prime Day sales have done particularly well, especially compared to last year. Its Echo speakers and Alexa digital assistant are considered the leaders in what likely will be a large and lucrative new field of consumer electronics. However, its stock has stopped rising.

Amazon shares trade at $994, against a 52-week range of $1,017 to $710. Its market cap is $476 billion, which makes it the fourth most valuable American publicly traded company. Amazon is expected to expand its presence in e-commerce, where it is the U.S. leader, as well as in consumer electronics and food sales. Its most important growth opportunity is Amazon Web Services, its cloud business, which is the largest in the sector. AWS is rapidly expanding and already profitable.

One reason Amazon shares may have peaked is that all the major U.S. tech-centric company stocks may be overvalued. The members of the FAAMG group — Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), Amazon, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) — have had extraordinary stock run-ups. Consequently, they have valuations that are too high for their sales and earnings growth, critics of their valuations say.

However, the theory of the valuation of the group does not take into account the specific reasons Amazon’s value may have been capped. Although few think it can be flanked by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), the world’s largest retailer, the primarily brick-and-mortar company has started to spend billions to mount a challenge. Amazon Web Services is being chased by Microsoft, Alphabet and an army of other cloud companies. This may push down the margins of the cloud sector. Amazon’s leadership in streaming media is challenged today by Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX). Apple has started to press into the business, as has Google’s YouTube. Content creators such as movie studios and television networks want to take market share from Amazon’s streaming operation. So do cable and telecom companies. The most recent example of this is AT&T Inc.’s (NYSE: T) buyout of mega-content company Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX).

Amazon’s shares may have peaked because of its own success. Many companies want a piece of all, or at least some of, its action.