Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
Prime Cut: As its first-quarter results show, Amazon has been on a financial tear in recent months, with net income more than doubling to $1.6 billion. But Morgan Stanley decided to put things into an even clearer perspective by comparing the year-over-year dollar growth of the company’s first-quarter gross profit with what the next five-largest retailers are projected to collectively post.
TWICE Take: The difference is mind blowing. Amazon grew its gross profit (which excludes fixed costs like inventory, shipping and storage) by $7 billion last quarter — nearly five times that of Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, Target and Lowe’s combined, based on Morgan Stanley forecasts. Fueled by high-margin cash generators like AWS, advertising and Prime memberships, Amazon’s gross profits (and 40 percent gross profit margin) will allow it to expand rapidly into new areas like groceries, hardware, AI and health tech while reinvesting in its core businesses, making it a seemingly invincible foe.
See the full story at CNBC.
Prime Cut: Silicon Valley has been taking it on the chin of late for the dearth of diversity within its leadership ranks. Now it’s Amazon’s turn.
TWICE Take: The company’s board did an about face after first rejecting a shareholder proposal by the CtW Investment Group that would have compelled it to include women and minorities when considering new directors. The board initially balked, pointing to the already “diverse” makeup of its all white (and three female) members, and suggesting that the added effort would be a waste of time and money. But letters from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and members of the Congressional Black Caucus caused the board to change its tune, which now stressed that “diversity and inclusion are good for our business and our customers.”
See the full story at USA Today.
Display’s The Thing
Prime Cut: Last week we reported that Amazon had dropped out of Google Shopping, the company’s paid advertising program. Now we have a clearer understanding of why.
TWICE Take: Amazon is reportedly testing a new display ad program of its own, which lets its third-party sellers purchase spots that appear not only on Amazon but on other websites and apps, enticing customers to return to Amazon for the final buy. If it sticks, the pilot program may have the potential to disrupt Google’s estimated $38 billion display ad business, and give Facebook a run for the money as well.
See the full story at Bloomberg.
Amazon Go-ing To San Fran And Chi-Town
Prime Cut: Amazon made a splash back in January when it opened the doors of its first cashier-less convenience store to the public after testing it on employees for over a year. Having fleshed out the technological particulars, which include “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning,” and addressed any grab-and-go kinks like shrinkage, the company feels it’s now ready to take Amazon Go on the road.
TWICE Take: While the company hasn’t revealed a timetable, it has confirmed what its job postings page suggests: that the no-cashier shops will be popping up in Chicago and San Francisco sometime soon. The acknowledgement follows reports of a building permit filed for a 625-square-foot “Amazon store” in Chicago’s Loop district, and a forthcoming filing for a space near San Francisco’s Union Square. That means area denizens with an Amazon Go mobile app will soon be able to swipe their way into the stores, shop to their hearts’ content, and simply walk out with their goodies — and a digitally-posted credit card bill.
See the full story at The Seattle Times.
Prime Cut: For all its success Amazon has had its share of flops (did anybody say Fire Phone?), although the missteps are few and far between. But in a rare CNBC interview from 1999, founder/CEO Jeff Bezos touts what would eventually become an early failure with Sotheby’s, after a joint attempt at online collectible bidding.
TWICE Take: Back then Amazon was a money-losing bookseller, and saw an opportunity to compete with the likes of eBay by focusing on antiques, collectibles and art. But what Bezos could not foresee was the felonious future of Sotheby’s CEO Diana Brooks, who pled guilty to price-fixing in 2000. The online auction deal died soon thereafter.
See the full story at CNBC.
Amazon Quote Of The Week
“With Hispanics accounting for the nation’s largest minority group and nearly 17 percent of the labor force, it is clear that Amazon has room for improvement.” — The Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a letter to Amazon’s board of directors