Amazon Earnings Overcome Seriously Low Margins (AMZN)

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has turned in its highly anticipated earnings report.  The online retail giant earned $0.28 EPS and sales were up 34% to $13.8 billion. Operating income was $192 million in the first quarter versus $322 million a year ago, but forex cut $4 million. Thomson Reuters had estimates of $0.07 EPS and $12.9 billion in sales.

Amazon offered up guidance for the second quarter of $11.9 to $13.3 billion in sales for growth of 20% to 34%; Thomson Reuters is looking for $12.8 billion in sales.

The company gave conservative earnings guidance for net income to be in a range of -$ 260 million to a gain of $40 million but this includes roughly $260 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets among other items.  If you back that out for a non-GAAP figure that analysts use, that implies that Amazon would be breaking even to making $300 million.  Thomson Reuters was looking for $0.20 EPS.

Before the effects of today’s guidance, Amazon was trading at about 76-times the expected 2013 earnings.  Keep in mind that Amazon’s operating margin on worldwide sales was flat at 1.5% from the prior quarter and that was only 1.4% of worldwide sales over the trailing 12 months.

Amazon shares closed up 0.8% at $195.99 and the 52-week trading range is $166.97 to $246.71. Shares are indicated up 9.7% at $215.02 in the after-hours trading session.  This will put the stock handily above its 200-day moving average if it holds up for tomorrow.

JON C. OGG

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