Amazon reports 4th-quarter earnings on Thursday. Here's what 3 Wall Street analysts are talking about.

AP Photo/Lefteris PitarakisAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
  • Amazon is set to report its fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes on Thursday.
  • The report stands to reverse some of the negative sentiment sourced from its last earnings release, which saw profits fall below Wall Street expectations.
  • Analysts are focusing on Amazon Web Services stabilisation, Prime one-day shipping payoff, and strong holiday sales trends as key factors for an earnings beat.
  • Here’s what three banks are talking about ahead of Amazon’s report.
  • Watch Amazon trade live here.

Amazon will report its fourth-quarter earnings after market close on Thursday.

Wall Street expects the e-commerce giant to report about $US86.2 billion in revenue and adjusted earnings-per-share of $US7.02, according to Bloomberg data. The company reported about $US72.4 billion in revenue and adjusted EPS of $US8.28 for the fourth quarter of 2018.

Amazon’s report stands to reverse some of negative sentiment born from its last quarterly release. The company tanked as much as 8.6% in after-hours trading after beating analyst estimates for revenue but missing profit expectations.

The company is also set to provide an update on its one-day shipping initiative for Prime members. Amazon announced in 2019 that the service’s rollout was costing more than expected, and analysts are sure to seek additional detail on the effort and whether the investment is paying off.

The fourth-quarter figures will include revenue from 2019’s unusually short holiday season. Though the brief Thanksgiving-to-Christmas period threatened to suppress sales, total holiday revenue grew 3.4% year-over-year with online sales soaring 18.8%, according to a late December Mastercard report.

E-commerce sales accounted for nearly 15% of all holiday season revenue, the report added, suggesting Amazon’s end-of-year revenue could come in above expectations.

Amazon stock traded at $US1,858 per share at Wednesday’s close, up about 0.6%% year-to-date.

Here’s what three analysts are expecting from Amazon’s fourth-quarter report.


Credit Suisse: AWS “will continue to ramp up”

Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Price Target: $US2,100

Rating: Outperform

Amazon’s critical web services business has helped drive numerous earnings wins in recent years, but its revenue growth rate steadily slowed through 2019. Credit Suisse analysts believe the product still has plenty of room to run, and that a shift to targeting larger enterprise clients will drive gains in 2020.

Credit Suisse expects AWS marketing expenses to increase as Amazon targets new clients, and that the company will enter “a period of structurally lower margins” before the investment pays off. The bank maintained its outperform rating on Amazon stock, citing growth in its e-commerce segment through larger infrastructure, “upward bias” in AWS revenue forecasts, and the potential for “faster-than-expected” free cash flow growth.


JPMorgan: “One of our best ideas in 2020”

Shutterstock/PeterVandenbelt

Price Target: $US2,200

Rating: Overweight

The strong holiday season can push fourth-quarter sales past Amazon’s own guidance, JPMorgan analysts wrote in mid-January. Prime one-day delivery “should benefit” the company’s holiday sales figures, but foreign exchange costs could present a counteracting drag on Amazon’s bottom line.

AWS growth will continue to decelerate in the fourth-quarter, but “the secular shift remains early” and the web business “is well positioned,” JPMorgan said.

JPMorgan recently highlighted Amazon as one of its “best ideas in 2020,” viewing the company’s fall from record highs as an opportunity to post healthy growth in the new year. The bank sees Amazon’s prospects in the second half of the year as particularly enticing, with investments in AWS and marketing set to finally pay off. The fourth-quarter report will prelude a reacceleration in net sales in the first quarter of 2020, the analysts added.


Bank of America: “2020 ends better than it starts”

Paul Morigi/Getty Images

Price Target: $US2,330

Rating: Buy

Bank of America expects fourth-quarter revenues to land modestly above analysts’ consensus estimate. The bank’s bull case involves an online store sales beat fuelled by one-day shipping, as such a positive figure would show investment in the rapid shipping program quickly paying off. A bear case would include another quarter of slowing AWS growth and a negative revision for 2020 profits.

First-quarter guidance presents a sizable risk, but the Amazon “ecosystem” has been improved through delivery investment, a growing retail business, and AWS stabilisation, the analysts noted. Wall Street should focus on strong retail sales and improving AWS trends if first-quarter projections fall under expectations, they added.

“We think 2020 ends better than it starts,” the team wrote.


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