Analysts: Amazon Could Soar in the Coming Year

FAN Editor

E-commerce leader (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been getting a lot of love from analysts in recent weeks. Even as the company deals with slowing revenue growth, not a single analyst that covers Amazon (as of this writing) recommends selling the stock.

Some analysts are even more bullish then others, with two of the more enthusiastic among them raising their price targets in recent weeks to as much as $3,000 per share — a 63% premium to Tuesday’s close. Michael Olson of Piper Jaffray believes Amazon will top this threshold at some point within 24 to 36 months. Analyst Michael Levine of Pivotal Research is also squarely in Amazon’s corner, believing the stock will hit $2,750, up nearly 50%, within the coming 12 months.

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Let’s dig into why these analysts are so gung-ho about Amazon and whether investors should follow them into the fray.

E-commerce leadership will continue

There’s little doubt that Amazon is the world’s leading e-commerce platform, according to digital magazine Internet Retailer, which listed Amazon as the No. 1 internet retailer of 2018. The publication also noted that Amazon accounted for more than 33% of all online sales in the U.S. last year.

This leadership in the space should continue, spurred on by the company’s recent move to offer one-day shipping on more than 100 million items for Prime members.

Underestimating AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) — the company’s cloud computing unit — has been a key factor in the company’s success in recent years, but investors may still be underestimating the segment, according to Levine, which will “surprise investors” with its growth.

AWS grew faster than the cloud market in 2018 and generated revenue growth of 47% year over year. With more and more businesses adopting the cloud, AWS’s impressive growth should continue. The two areas of cloud computing that Amazon dominates, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) make up the bulk of the market and are expected to grow about 25% annually over the coming three years, according to research and advisory company Gartner. Amazon should continue to ride that shift to the cloud.

Well-positioned in advertising

Advertising has been a surprisingly strong growth avenue for Amazon in recent years, but 2018 was a banner year for the segment.

While the company has a limited amount of real estate to place its ads, some believe that as space becomes more precious, Amazon will increase its advertising revenue by raising ad prices. Levine believes Amazon is “particularly” well-positioned to continue to benefit from the current “ad environment.”

Different path, same result

Olson backed up his bullish thesis by analyzing the three aforementioned business segments independently, using what he called a “sum of the parts” process. “We have a high degree of confidence that Amazon shares can reach [$3,000] with no major acquisitions or other significant changes to the business,” Olson wrote.

Amazon’s revenue is slowing, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the company generated revenue of nearly $233 billion last year. It was inevitable that the rate of growth would decelerate, but that doesn’t mean the story is over.

The e-commerce leader is also pulling a variety of levers to boost its profitability. In the first quarter, operating margin in North America soared to 6.4%, up from 3.7% in the prior-year quarter. In the international segment, operating margin was virtually flat, a significant improvement from a 4% loss in the year-ago quarter. Profit soared at AWS as operating margin topped 29%, up from 26% this time last year.

No matter how you slice it, there’s plenty of growth left at Amazon, and the online seller is still a buy.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Gartner. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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