Amazon.com, Inc. Earnings Preview

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Amazon.com, Inc. Earnings Preview
By Szk7788 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Amazon is scheduled to release its next earnings report on Thursday after closing bell, and it seems that at least for now, investors aren’t expecting much. The online retailer‘s stock declined 1.36% to $626.26 per share in afternoon trades on Tuesday. Consensus estimates suggest earnings of 58 cents per share and $28 billion in revenue for the first quarter.

Unearned revenue a key component of Amazon’s earnings

Ahead of this week’s earnings report, Deutsche Bank analysts focused on unearned revenue and how it will impact Amazon’s long-term prospects. Stephen Ju and team have an $800 price target and Outperform rating on Amazon shares.

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They note that the online retailer’s unearned revenue disclosure on its balance sheet has shown acceleration. This metric doesn’t get a lot of attention, and the DB team explains that it tracks the outstanding liabilities relating to the yet-to-be delivered services for Amazon Prime subscribers, who pay $99 per year for the service.

Ju and team noted that when the company raised the price of the subscription, it witnessed an acceleration in the first quarter of 2014. After lapping the first year with the higher price, the metric accelerated in the third quarter of 2015 as a result of Prime Day and saw even more acceleration in the fourth quarter. The DB team sees some of this acceleration as being due to AWS Reserved Instances, but they believe this suggests another acceleration in growth for Prime subscribers and means good things to come for the online retailer’s gross merchandise volume and e-commerce revenue.

They believe the Street is mispricing the e-commerce part of the business and expect free cash flow to reset higher as the capital intensity involved with running Amazon Web Services starts to level off.

Amazon slaps a target on Netflix’s back

Amazon announced this week that it will start offering U.S. customers a standalone subscription to Prime Instant Video for $9 per month. This breakout means the company is getting even more serious about competing with Netflix. The online retailer will also start offering its Prime service for $11 per month for those who don’t to want to pay for a full year at $99 in one payment.

Netflix released its latest earnings report on Monday after closing bell, and investors weren’t pleased with it as they sent shares plunging by more than 11% due to weak guidance on Tuesday. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter and team expect Amazon’s new video offering to directly impact Netflix by placing another limit on its ability to grow its user base in the U.S.

They also believe that the online retailer’s new Instant Video standalone plan purposely places a target on Netflix’s back, although they don’t expect subscribers to defect from Netflix to go to Amazon. They do believe the offering will help Amazon divide the households that haven’t subscribed to a streaming video service with Netflix, however.

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Michelle Jones is editor-in-chief for ValueWalk.com and has been with the site since 2012. Previously, she was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Email her at [email protected]
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