Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN): Q2 Earnings Preview 2011

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), the largest online retailer, is scheduled to release its second-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. Analysts, on average, expect the company to report earnings of 35 cents per share on revenue of $9.37 billion. In the year ago period, the company reported earnings of 45 cents per share on revenue of $6.57 billion.

Amazon.com, Inc. operates as an online retailer in North America and internationally. It also manufactures and sells the Kindle e-reader. The Company offers programs that enable sellers to sell their products on its Websites and their own branded Websites. Amazon’s Cloud storage solution offers what would be an easy way to transfer, share and sync files between a smart phone, tablet or even PC/Mac.

In the preceding first-quarter, the Seattle, Washington-based company's net income was $201 million, or 44 cents a share, compared to a profit of $299 million, or 66 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue jumped 38% to $9.86 billion from  $7.13 billion in the first quarter of 2010. Analysts, on average, expected the company to report earnings of 61 cents per share on revenue of $9.52 billion..

At its last earnings call in April, Amazon said that it expects revenue in a range between $8.85 billion and $9.65 billion, compared with the $8.75 billion expected by analysts. Operating income is expected to come in between $95 million and $245 million; Wall Street was looking for $356.4 million for the period. In a conference call, Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said the company expects to open nine fulfillment centers this year after adding 13 in 2010.

The company has benefited from strong consumer demand for its  Kindle e-reader, solid e-commerce growth and accelerating demand trends witnessed over the recent holiday period. As usual, investors will be alert for any concrete details on sales of Amazon's Kindle e-reader. The company has never disclosed how many it has sold, though it has said the Kindle is its best-selling product and that millions of people read Kindle books on the device itself and on free Kindle apps for smart phones and computers.  The company has already launched a new, lower-priced version of the device that displays ads on the main screen.

Amazon is one of a handful of players jockeying to capture the growing market for digital books, which was $966 million last year and is expected to triple by 2015, according to Forrester Research. The Kindle competes with devices such as Barnes & Noble Inc.'s (NYSE: BKS) Nook and Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad. The company is now selling more electronic books for its Kindle e-reader than physical books, the latest milestone in the reshaping of traditional media industries by digital technologies.

On the downside, there are signs that the growth trajectory at Amazon is tapering. Pronounced growth has necessitated more investments in its distribution network and underlying technology. Technology spending jumped by 58% during the March quarter, while fulfillment spending was up 57%. In April, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos that defended the company’s massive investments in technology and infrastructure.

A big part of Amazon’s growing expense line is to build out new fulfillment centers to service its growing sales base. Also, the company is investing heavily in technology that can serve its main online-retail business as well as its growing digital-media business — which sells electronic versions of books, music and movies — as well as its Web services, offering a popular array of cloud-based computing services to customers. Amazon has been building out its online music, movie and videogame stores, along with its “Cloud Drive,” which is a cloud-based digital locker service that can store media files and allow users to play them from any Internet-connected PC.

Among other developments, the company recently reached a licensing deal with CBS Corp. (NYSE: CBS) that will allow its Amazon Prime customers to stream programs from the television network's library at no additional cost. Amazon has been battling with Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and other companies for a share of the digital video market as consumer audiences increasingly turn to the Internet and a plethora of mobile devices to watch television shows and movies.

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