Acknowledging how they may have “underappreciated how hard” the company is pushing itself in its growth, analysts nevertheless remain high on the e-commerce giant’s performance.
For many of the Wall Street analysts who closely track Amazon.com’s plans, the earnings miss Thursday does nothing to change their bullish perspectives on the future of a business that’s still growing by huge leaps.
But at least some learned a lesson about underestimating how much Amazon is investing in the upkeep and expansion of that growth machine.
A barrage of stories about new Amazon ventures and frequent news releases from the company should have been a warning, “but we still underappreciated how hard (Amazon) is pushing,” wrote analysts with Morgan Stanley in a research note titled “Planting seeds through the harvest.”
Investors had been pushing up the company’s market valuation to records above $400 billion in recent weeks. On Thursday, they reacted strongly to Amazon’s posting 52 cents per share in profit, lower than the 78 cents analysts had forecast.
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Shares fell about 6 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday, and in regular trading Friday it dropped 5.2 percent to $776.32.
Most experts shrugged off the profit number, however. Cowen & Co. reiterated its “outperform” rating for the company.
“The massive demand implied by investments in fulfillment,” as well as the strength of Amazon’s cloud computing unit, “give us further confidence in (Amazon’s) long-term prospects,” Cowen analysts wrote.
Analysts with RBC Capital Markets said they viewed the investments “as positive,” and said they were still long on the stock, as growth rates would benefit from the spending.
RBC still rates Amazon as “outperform,” but it did bring down its 12-month price target to $950 from $1,000.
Amazon filed its detailed quarterly report with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.
The document painted a breakdown of $32.14 billion in operating expenses that gave an indication of where Amazon placed its chips during the third quarter.
Marketing saw a big jump — 37 percent to $1.74 billion, outpacing the 29 percent increase in overall operating expenses. Amazon says the increase mainly resulted from spending in online marketing and TV advertising, as well as extra payroll.
Fulfillment costs also rose disproportionately, to the tune of 34 percent. The reasons: more sales volume, higher inventory levels and the cost of expanding Amazon’s fulfillment capacity to accommodate growth.
General and administrative expenses rose 38 percent, mainly due to payroll and related expenses.