What to Watch For in Amazon’s Q4 Report

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is scheduled to release its most recent quarterly results after the markets close on Thursday. The consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters are calling for $1.85 in earnings per share (EPS) on $59.83 billion in revenue. In the fourth quarter of last year, the company said it had EPS of $1.54 and $43.74 billion in revenue.

Investors tend to overlook traditional value metrics because Amazon is such a growth engine that is taking over the country. So we have to expect that Amazon shares have become priced for perfection.

Analysts have raised ratings and targets extensively ahead of Amazon’s report. It seems almost assured that Amazon will have to beat earnings expectations, talk up its 2018 guidance and talk about how aspects of tax reform and the broader economic climate are set to benefit the company in the years ahead.

In the climate in which investors and analysts alike have not had to consider about worrying how high Amazon’s forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is, it should be anticipated that this will be a difficult report to interpret because of the acquisition and integration of Whole Foods in 2017. And Amazon’s AWS keeps beating expectations. The reality is that analysts often have a hard time integrating the costs and benefits of model-changing acquisitions.

Whether Amazon will be a big winner of tax reform remains to be seen. Its 2017 estimated tax rate is 35% and was over 36% in 2016. That sounds like there is a huge win if the corporate tax rate is going to drop to 21% under the new laws. The problem is that against massive revenues, Amazon’s 2017 pretax income is only expected to be $3.3 billion (Thomson Reuters), but that is called to rise to $10.2 billion by the end of 2019.

Excluding Thursday’s move, Amazon had outperformed the markets in 2018 with its stock up 24% year to date. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock was up over 76%.

Ahead of the release, a few analysts weighed in on Amazon:

  • Needham has a Buy rating and a $1,600 price target.
  • Deutsche Bank has a Buy rating and a $1,525 price target.
  • Guggenheim has a Buy rating with a $1,600 price target.
  • Morgan Stanley has a Buy rating.
  • Citigroup has a Buy rating with a $1,600 price target.
  • JMP has a Buy rating.
  • Canaccord Genuity has a Buy rating.
  • Merrill Lynch also has a Buy rating.

Shares of Amazon were last seen down over 1% at $1,432.60, with a consensus analyst price target of $1,379.69 and a 52-week range of $803.00 to $1,472.