Amazon stock has become such a darling on Wall Street that many analyst price targets have touched or even exceeded $1,000, although the last earnings report caused some to dial back their targets a bit. However, $1,200 may be the new Street-high price target for Amazon stock as another firm has evaluated the threat the online retailer may pose to Google parent Alphabet.
Amazon stock is BMO’s new top pick
In a research note dated April 4, BMO Capital Markets analyst Daniel Salmon reiterated his Outperform rating on Amazon stock and boosted his price target from $900 all the way up to $1,200. He also declared the stock his “new top pick” and proclaimed that the company’s online ad business has picked up so much momentum that he now sees a “triumvirate” of Amazon, Google and Facebook rather than the “duopoly” he saw before.
He feels that Amazon’s ad business will hit $3.5 billion in revenue this year, representing a 65% increase year over year, driven by the company’s native cost per click Sponsored Products ad unit. He sees it as the biggest opportunity in the near term. The ad product uses keyword targeting to put ads next to search results and even on the detail pages of products. He estimates that this one product alone will generate $2 billion in revenue this year, representing a 110% year over year increase and accounting for 58% of Amazon’s total ad revenue.
Why is the company a threat to Google?
Salmon noted that the online retailer is sitting on huge amounts of consumer data on the items they purchase, which he feels “offers tremendous targeting and re-targeting opportunities for brands.” He expects Amazon to take share of marketing budgets not only from Google but also from Facebook and other online direct response outlets and even offline direct marketing and retailers’ trade promotion budgets.
He added that the company is still in the early stages of its video strategy, including premium content, so he doesn’t see much risk to branding or TV budgets yet, although he expects this risk to build in the coming years.
Amazon increasingly being seen as a Google killer
The analyst particularly likes the company’s ad business because he pegs its adjusted EBITDA margins at an impressive 50% to 70%, noting that it will be “very accretive” to the company’s total margins and possibly even “be used to offset investments” in the other parts of the company’s business. He also sees paid search on Alexa-enabled devices as an opportunity in the long term, although it’s still early for this part of the business. He believes it might be harder than expected to monetize voice searches.
BMO isn’t the first firm to start seeing Google as being in Amazon’s crosshairs. Just last month, Wedbush also highlighted Amazon as a threat to Alphabet’s digital ad business. In October, Nomura also floated the idea of Amazon threatening Google. There have also been numerous comparisons of the two companies’ digital assistants and smart home platforms face off (Amazon Alexa/ Echo versus Google Assistant/ Google Home).
When will Amazon stock be too expensive?
CFRA analysts also upped their targets for Amazon stock this week, moving to $975 from $885 on Monday, although they focused on the company’s core e-commerce business rather than the possibility that it might steal from Alphabet. Interestingly, the firm cut its estimates for fiscal 2017 and 2018 earnings because of the company’s ongoing investments.
And so the competition for having the highest price target on Amazon stock continues with no end (or sanity) in sight. InvestorPlace contributor Tim Biggam noted that the stock’s price to sales ratio has almost doubled over the last 12 months, reaching its highest level since 2005.
To put this into perspective, he pointed out that Amazon’s revenue last year amounted to $136 billion versus Walmart’s $482 billion. Meanwhile, its market cap stands at $429 billion versus Walmart’s $221 billion, so with Amazon stock’s current price, the company is worth almost twice as much as the big box retailer even though it only has 28% of the sales. Clearly, bulls are arguing that the multi-faceted nature of Amazon’s business means it should be worth more.
Shares of Amazon stock edged upward by as much as 0.79% to $8898.60 during regular trading hours on Tuesday.