Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) are all major players in most of the industries in which Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) plays. However, the keyword in that sentence is “most,” as Bernstein analysts note, so the three companies don’t necessarily pose a serious threat to Amazon.
In a report dated Aug. 1, 2014, analyst Carlos Kirjner and his team at Bernstein consider investor worries that Amazon is done for because Apple, Google and Netflix are picking away at various parts of it. He says this just isn’t so for Amazon as a whole, although he does see a threat to one small part of the business.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft battle in infrastructure
First, Kirjner looks at Amazon Web Service, the company’s infrastructure-as-a-service business. Of course Google and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and now Apple are battling for a chunk of this ever-growing pie. The analyst sees the public cloud as being “a huge deal” and says that the services offered by AWS are in no way commodities because there are significant barriers to switching platforms. In addition, he sees Amazon, Google and Microsoft as being the dominating forces in this segment of the industry.
Investors were especially concerned about the growing costs of AWS and the segment’s revenue deceleration in the second quarter. However, the analyst adds that his tracking on AWS indicates that the company expects to see a business that’s much larger than $10 billion because it is rapidly adding positions. He also believes that the price cut which was triggered by Google’s price target was mainly to blame for that deceleration. However, he sees Amazon’s costs coming down and the business stabilizing.
Where Google and Apple do threaten Amazon
Kirjner does see a threat to Amazon’s media content business, however, courtesy the Google Play store and Apple’s iTunes. He notes that currently Amazon does have a huge part of the e-book business because of its Kindle business, but he thinks that could change in the next five to ten years, with Apple, and Google grabbing bigger shares of the market. And then there is additional competition in streaming from Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) and Netflix. Currently, media content makes up just 15% of Amazon’s total revenue.
Nonetheless, he sees three factors that could partially offset worries about competition in this area. He thinks Amazon is right in arguing that the incremental costs from its Prime video segment are being offset by the additions of more Prime users and more transactions. Second, he says media is a “mature, well penetrated, slow growing category” and that Amazon’s electronics and general merchandise sales are still outgrowing it by more than enough to make up for it. And third, he estimates that fulfillment and merchandise sales will make up over 75% of Amazon’s total free cash flow by 2020.
Amazon’s retail business is no small fry
The analyst estimates that Amazon’s gross merchandise volume will hit $300 billion by that year. Currently, it’s at only $140 billion. He also expects the segment’s EBIT will surpass 5% of gross merchandise volume and that media will only be around 7%. He estimates that Amazon’s fulfillment business will grow to between $8 billion and $10 billion with between $1 billion and $2 billion in EBIT.
In the case of Amazon Web Services, he estimates an EBIT of approximately $3 billion. And so, the bottom line, according to Kirjner, is that threats in media content don’t really matter much:
“In other words, there are competitive threats associated with the media business and AWS will undergo a bumpy road in the near term as the competitive dynamics settles and the impact of the price cut flows through the P&L, but together these two business areas will not be the core of Amazon’s business and value creation opportunity, even by 2020.”