Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) posted revenue of $35.7 billion in its most recently reported quarter, up 22% from the same quarter a year ago. Wall Street was disappointed not only with sales but Amazon’s forecasts. Lost among the disappointment is that Amazon’s revenue has hit half of that of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) in the United States, a milestone that seemed impossible just a few years ago.
The U.S. revenue of Wal-Mart, based on its most recent quarterly numbers, was $72.2 billion, up 3.8%. Operating income for the segment was $4.5 billion, down from $4.9 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. Amazon’s quarterly net income for the period just announced was $1.1 billion, which is pathetic next to the Wal-Mart number. However, the net number was a jump of 88%.
Critics of a comparison between Wal-Mart and Amazon would say that Amazon’s revenue includes its international sales and Amazon’s cloud operations, known as Amazon Web Services. Fair enough. In North America, Amazon’s revenue was $21.5 billion, up 24%. On that basis, Amazon’s North American sales are 30% Wal-Mart’s U.S. revenue.
Wal-Mart’s domestic sales come from 3,916 supercenters and discount stores. Many analysts would say the store count is a curse because operating the locations is so expensive. Due in part to this, Wal-Mart has been attacked because of its inability to increase its online sales rapidly. Therefore, it has been buried by Amazon’s market share.
It seems likely that Amazon’s revenue eventually will catch Wal-Mart’s in the United States, and with very few physical retail locations. Even if Wall Street has turned its back on Amazon, at least temporarily, its numbers against those of Wal-Mart are extraordinary.