Amazon Earnings Analysis: Bezos Runs a Charity Rather Than a Business

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) has now announced its third-quarter financial results. The stock initially took it on the chin as it appears as though Jeff Bezos wants to continue running a quasi nonprofit rather than a business that makes money off of its millions of customers.

Amazon said that revenue was up about 20% to $20.58 billion, shy of the $20.84 billion expected by Thomson Reuters. Amazon was expected to have a loss at $0.74 per share, and it was even wider:

  • Amazon said that its operating loss was $544 million in the third quarter, compared with operating loss of $25 million in third quarter 2013. Net loss was $437 million in the third quarter, or $0.95 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $41 million, or $0.09 per diluted share, in third quarter 2013.

As far as guidance for the fourth quarter, Amazon telegraphed that net sales are expected to be between $27.3 billion and $30.3 billion, or to grow between 7% and 18%, versus the Thomson Reuters estimate of $30.89 billion in revenue. We have not calculated this on a per-share basis, but Amazon forecast that its operating earnings or loss will be between a loss of $570 million and a profit of $430 million, compared to $510 million in fourth quarter 2013. Thomson Reuters was calling for a gain of $0.67 per share, versus $0.51 per share report a year ago.

Here is a great figure for you: third-quarter operating margin was negative, at -2.6%. If you just look at North America, that margin was 0.7%; international was -2.9%.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 481 million on September 30, 2014, compared with 475 million one year ago.

Jeff Bezos has hardly done anything — well he did nothing — to address that this is a serious disappointment. He said:

As we get ready for this upcoming holiday season, we are focused on making the customer experience easier and more stress-free than ever. In addition to our already low prices, we will offer more than 15,000 Lightning Deals with early access to select deals for Prime members, hundreds of millions of products across dozens of categories, curated gift lists like Holiday Toy List and Electronics Holiday Gift Guide, new features like #AmazonWishList, and a great new lineup of products like Kindle Voyage and Fire HD Kids Edition. And if you order your gifts on AmazonSmile, we’ll donate a percentage of your purchase price to your favorite charity.

ALSO READ: The 20 Most Profitable Companies in the World (not Amazon)

Amazon shares closed up $0.21 at $313.18, but the shares were down over 8%, or more than $27, to $288.80 or so in the after-hours reaction. With a 52-week range of $284.38 to $408.06, Amazon could be hitting 52-week lows if this gets any worse.

Again, the consensus analyst estimate was for Amazon to post a slight loss in 2014 — and the stock was already valued at about 160 times expected 2015 earnings prior to earnings. Jeff Bezos is operating Amazon as if it was a .org.