Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) managed to beat earnings expectations for its fourth-quarter report this week, but Wall Street remained focused on lower first-quarter guidance and on Amazon’s increased investment spending plans for 2019. The company also had begun removing many products from its India website in an effort to comply with the new foreign investment curbs, calling the India situation fluid but still a good long-term opportunity.
Amazon’s forecast for the first quarter of 2019 was for net sales between $56 billion and $60 billion. That is short of the $60.77 billion forecast from Thomson Reuters.
One consideration investors should at least consider about the first quarter over every year at Amazon is that the fourth quarter is by far more important to Amazon’s year than any other (including the first quarter). To prove the point: Amazon’s net sales for the fourth quarter rose 19.7% to $72.38 billion and beat the consensus estimate of $71.87 billion. Amazon has the same issues as other retailers in that it sees a huge wave of orders during the ever-important holiday season at the end of each year.
24/7 Wall St. saw many analyst calls on Amazon after earnings. While Amazon may have slowing growth and may still have traditional valuation metrics that are not easy to justify, many analysts and investors are believers of the long-term opportunity and outright dominance that CEO Jeff Bezos may deliver in the years to come. There are some disappointments with slower growth trends and higher spending, but most analysts remained firmly positive on the online giant seller of anything and everything.
Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating with a $2,100 price objective, noting a mixed quarter and deceleration of the Amazon Web Services strength and higher investment costs.
Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating but also warned that new business investment and initiatives, along with tough comps from before, likely mean that strong growth will resume at the earliest in the second quarter of 2019.
Additional analyst calls:
- BMO Capital Markets maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its target to $2,250.
- Canaccord Genuity reiterated its Buy rating with $2,250 price target.
- Citigroup maintained its Buy rating but lowered its target to $2,000.
- CFRA (S&P Global) reiterated its Buy rating and $2,000 price target.
- Deutsche Bank reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target to $2,300 from $2,250.
- Morgan Stanley maintained an Overweight rating but lowered its target to $2,200.
- Pivotal Research started Amazon with a Buy rating and set a $1,920 target.
- Raymond James maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its target from $2,000 to $1,960.
- Wedbush maintained its Outperform rating but lowered its target to $2,000 from $2,100.
Even ahead of earnings, Amazon indicated that it has over 100 million people hooked on Amazon Prime.
While its shares closed up almost 3% at $1,718.73 ahead of earnings, the higher business investment and costs and lower guidance had shares indicated down almost 5% at $1,640.00 ahead of Friday’s opening bell.
Amazon’s shares were trading down more than 4% at $1,638.90 late in the trading day on Friday. The market cap is $808 billion, and the 52-week range is $1,265.93 to $2,050.50.