Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)

CAPS Rating: 3 out of 5

Once simply an online purveyor of books, Amazon.com has become a marketplace for just about anything you’d want to buy.

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Member Avatar stocky5 (36.58) Submitted: 4/16/2014 12:33:17 PM : Underperform Start Price: $318.66 AMZN Score: -1.93

Anybody else notice AMZN's prices are not as good as they once were? The large discounting is pretty much gone. "Prime" service is not so "Prime" anymore. Free shipping is now on orders exceeding $35, not $25. The "Daily Deals" page was redesigned to the point were it is no longer consumer friendly. Tax free shopping will soon be a thing of the past, as rather than fighting the retail industry, AMZN will join them by opening new warehouses in many new states, establishing a physical presence within those states. All of which will slow growth, as smart consumers look for the next AMZN. It's not hard to imagine compressed multiples, especially when the PE ratio is North of 500. Or that insider selling is high. Or that 5 of the last 6 quarterly consensus earnings numbers have been missed. Or that the current earnings consensus has been reduced by over 50% in the last 90 days. AMZN's entry into the universe of investment reality may not be as much fun as the ride up has been.

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Member Avatar AnsgarJohn (99.07) Submitted: 4/16/2014 8:27:13 AM : Outperform Start Price: $321.17 AMZN Score: +1.10

P/ocf

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Member Avatar OklaBoston (68.22) Submitted: 4/12/2014 10:08:09 AM : Underperform Start Price: $317.67 AMZN Score: -0.82

Rates a high PE but not THIS high!

If this bottoms above $200 I will be surprised.

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Member Avatar tmpangia (48.51) Submitted: 4/8/2014 7:09:10 PM : Underperform Start Price: $328.47 AMZN Score: +1.09

AMZN currently has very low profit margins, according to Jeff Bezos' plan to undercut the competition to place himself at the controls of the largest consumer company in the world. These low profit margins cut into earnings, which are consistently low.

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Member Avatar motleygirl2014 (< 20) Submitted: 3/28/2014 2:56:38 AM : Outperform Start Price: $340.05 AMZN Score: -4.74

Only go up from here

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Member Avatar fireboy9 (36.08) Submitted: 3/28/2014 12:07:46 AM : Outperform Start Price: $340.05 AMZN Score: -4.74

Amazon is unpredictable, and that is part of what keeps people coming back. Each new offering may be a loss leader at the start, but it keeps us coming back. The price hike, a year off for most, will probably pass with little fanfare when it comes.

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Member Avatar meridius91 (59.21) Submitted: 3/27/2014 12:09:19 PM : Underperform Start Price: $335.80 AMZN Score: +3.84

There's no more upside to be had as a stock. Amazon may well come to dominate retailing but for now they have flown too high.

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Member Avatar caelenm (23.75) Submitted: 3/21/2014 5:31:25 PM : Outperform Start Price: $360.13 AMZN Score: -9.06

Their growth may have slowed, but they are still Goliath in whatever industry they choose to be involved in, whether it's online purchases or cloud servers. They may not be quite as explosive as their younger years, but who can bet against them?

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Member Avatar motto1628 (< 20) Submitted: 3/21/2014 1:30:12 AM : Outperform Start Price: $174.00 AMZN Score: +45.04

- distribution moat
- cheap products
- future trend: online shopping
- genius CEO?

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Member Avatar iPittytheFool (80.81) Submitted: 3/13/2014 6:21:30 PM : Outperform Start Price: $372.80 AMZN Score: -13.33

Amazon will become a player in 3D printing and that will add to their already big market over time

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Member Avatar johndmcclure (20.05) Submitted: 3/12/2014 5:09:37 PM : Outperform Start Price: $376.62 AMZN Score: -12.58

Future of retail

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Member Avatar SlothropsMonkey (84.06) Submitted: 3/11/2014 5:59:05 PM : Outperform Start Price: $134.12 AMZN Score: +75.45

Here's Monkey's currently conflicted thinking about being an owner of AMZN:

Dear Fools,

Let’s start with the obligatory disclosure, namely that Monkey owns a fair hammock’s worth of AMZN shares and has used and continues to use Amazon as his go-to shopping interwebs locale, mostly because he lives in a jungle where his only other option is a Walmart––they’re everyewhere––and we all know how merciless those capitalist goons are without a jolly care toward their employees, and communities and every which way and loose, yes?

The reason for this post–– a continuation, really, from this thread–– http://boards.fool.com/1081/ethics-amazon-31076608.aspx?sort... –– started back in January and all over these boards in recent days and weeks––is that despite Amazon’s recent relatively minor pullback in price, Monkey felt compelled to add to his position out of sheer capitalistic motivations but was precluded from doing so by his pea-sized simian conscience. And since he already owns shares, the confusion and uncertainty of what to do now is even more pronounced than if he were observing what appears to be an underground bloodsport from the proverbial sidelines of some back-alley in Hong Kong.

Having established this, let Monkey start with a little screed on compassion that most humans don’t quite understand because they assume it’s a lot easier than it actually is and is something that requires the kind of literal practice we don’t actually do, on-the-ground-wise. To be compassionate, one actually has to allow oneself to feel the pain of another. This is why most people merely act in ways that appear compassionate but aren’t really: they confuse wanting to be compassionate with the real thing, and those in any kind of genuine pain and distress, whose insincerity thermometers are especially fine-tuned, can spot the difference immediately. Because to genuinely feel compassion for another being requires that we ourselves feel pain, and because pain is, by definition, unpleasant, very few of us are actually compassionate. I hope this makes sense. I also hope this doesn’t come across as pious but rather as something Monkey notices as usually true about his human counterparts: they want to be compassionate but are too unskilled at dealing with their own pain, let alone the pain of others, and so they decide to say nice things instead, or buy balloons, all done in the absence of the genuine thing those suffering are most in need of.

And it is this principle that has become most worrisome about Amazon the Corporation: as long as we somehow stand to benefit from Amazon, the pain Amazon might be inflicting on others is sad or bad in theory and we say we understand, but we don’t really, not by a long shot. Monkey has noticed this tendency in himself as well, and in spades, so there’s no holier-than-thou-ness going on here. I think I need those bananas immediately and it’s really nice that they’re cheaper on Amazon than if I bought them from the conscientious local merchant, so despite feeling sad that there’s a warehouse worker who is being exploited to get him the ‘nanners, it’s not a genuine feeling of sadness that Monkey experiences, but a more intellectual kind. Which is why it’s so easy to dispense with the nagging in the end and speciously justify that if he doesn’t buy them from Amazon, someone else will.

Looking back over the conversations on this board, Monkey has found a lot more of this kind of specious reasoning he’d like to point out, though not to make anyone look bad, but if for no other reason than because this topic is essential to Monkey’s own investment thesis and needs to be addressed as unequivocally as possible. So, from previous threads:

“The reason there are ethics problems in capitalism is because capitalism is people interacting with each other and people are people under any system. If this were caused by free enterprise, I would expect all Socialist and Communist countries to be corruption-free and to be the worker's paradises that they promise.”

This argument misleads through equivocation and exaggeration. If I, as a conscious capitalist, decry the alienation of workers from their labor––i.e. I want people to feel some kind of feeling other than agony and boredom as they work––then I don’t need to set up this goal as “paradise.” Work is not paradise, at least not any of the work Monkey’s ever been involved with. But it doesn’t need to be Hell, either. What’s wrong with a little balance and moderation? Does Amazon really need to save all its pennies at the cost of Warehouse AC, so that it doesn’t need ambulances parked outside for the eventual heatstroke? Is it really “paradise” if the workplace is air-conditioned? As the author of the Salon piece, writes: “But should these marginal benefits to customers really be purchased at the price of a system that treats employees as untrustworthy human robots and relies on intimidation to push them to the limit, while denying them the rewards of their own increased efficiency? This is not a choice to be made solely with the economist’s narrow calculations of monetary costs and benefits. In quantitative, monetary terms, the cost to Amazon customers of a benign reengineering of the company would far outweigh the monetary benefits to employees.”

Next:

“The argument could be made that Walmart does return something to their workers and communities because their low prices allow their customers to either save or spend more. The converse of this would be "aren't these mom and pop stores gouging us with their high prices?"

The same argument holds true for Amazon...they return the savings to their customers in the form of lower prices. The customer is then empowered with what to do with that money....give it to church, buy supplies for a teacher, eat at a local restuarant, get that Fool subscription they have been wanting, etc….”

Lower prices do not come from nowhere; value is not created in a vacuum. As we have learned from Walmart and Amazon, you have to exploit to save and the savings then move to the customer. But what if the customer does not like saving money through exploitation? Yes, I can give back what I saved to charity or for some entirely noble cause, but taking from the poor/exploited to give back to some other unfortunate situation seems much less efficient and full of porous holes than taking the first step and not exploiting in the first place. Robin Hood stole from the rich to give to the poor, no? Since when is exploiting the working-class to give back some of the profits an acceptable model we are striving for?

TMFJeb wrote: Businesses need to prove value to survive. I view Amazon as ethical as any, and more than most.

Monkey responded: That's a claim, Jeb, that still doesn't have much evidence. Why is Amazon more ethical than most? Can you send me some links to have others read to me to help ease my unruly barbaric conscience? Because if low prices came without effect, I'd buy it. But low prices are not free, alas.

Jeb replied: I said it was my view that Amazon was as ethical as any, and more than most. That is anecdotal so I have no articles to fly to your hammock. I make the judgement by how I am treated as a customer. When I stack Amazon up against Verizon, Time Warner, Exxon, or any of the other companies my friends and I regularly use, they come out on top from the customer service standpoint. It may be a shallow assessment on my part, but that is how I make it. Amazon is a company very well known and often talked about, but I have never heard anything bad about them.

To which Monkey now replies: This is exactly the “customer is always right” ethos that Bezos lives and dies by because it creates the illusory division between customer and sentient being who lives in a complex ecosystem with other sentient beings that is so easy to succumb to. But making a humanoid feel good as a customer is very different than making them feel good as a living being who themselves feels suffering and causes and enables (or doesn’t) the suffering of others by voting with their dollar to support a company’s exploitative practices. As for “never having heard anything bad about them” you now have: both the Salon piece––

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/23/worse_than_wal_mart_amazons_...

––and George Packer’s new article in the Feb 17 & 24 New Yorker: “Cheap Words: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?––the answer to which you can guess, and here’s but one quote from the article: “Trends point toward what the litarary agent called ‘the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer.’ A few brand names at the top, a mass of unwashed titles down below, the middle hollowed out: the book business in the age of Amazon mirrors the widening inequality of the broader economy.”

Ok, one more quote, which concludes the article: “[The conversation about the format book-nerds currently prefer,] though important, takes place in the shallows and misses the deeper currents that, in the digital age, are pushing American culture under the control of ever fewer and more powerful corporations. Bezos is right: gatekeepers are inherently elitist, and some of them have been weakened, in no small part, because of their complacency and short-term thinking. But gatekeepers are also barriers against the complete commercialization of ideas, allowing new talent the time to develop and learn to tell difficult truths. When the last gatekeeper but one is gone, will Amazon care whether a book is any good?” Given Amazon's lack of care about so many important things, and it's surprising lack of care about books themselves, qua books (i.e. things with artistic and literary and humanistic value), Monkey is betting that the answer is not the one he hopes for.

You need to be a subscriber to read, but here’s the link to the above New Yorker article anyway:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/02/17/140217fa_fact_...

––Plus there's the recent a

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Member Avatar Mrogo (27.26) Submitted: 3/6/2014 11:51:10 AM : Outperform Start Price: $373.03 AMZN Score: -11.40

You can pretty much buy anything but a Kidney on Amazon!

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Member Avatar LEFTA69 (< 20) Submitted: 3/6/2014 2:48:54 AM : Outperform Start Price: $374.05 AMZN Score: -11.79

Amazo

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Member Avatar DCrook1 (28.54) Submitted: 2/28/2014 7:28:05 PM : Outperform Start Price: $358.73 AMZN Score: -9.96

It is the one of the only places you can buy everything you need.

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Member Avatar SwampBull (94.35) Submitted: 2/27/2014 12:19:57 PM : Underperform Start Price: $357.35 AMZN Score: +9.31

Based on P/E alone.

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Member Avatar degaston (99.59) Submitted: 2/25/2014 11:14:48 AM : Underperform Start Price: $360.86 AMZN Score: +10.07

This stock is seriously way overvalued.

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Member Avatar Zeos786 (< 20) Submitted: 2/24/2014 12:37:28 PM : Outperform Start Price: $350.90 AMZN Score: -7.24

Lots of runway for innovation.

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Member Avatar glassygirl (< 20) Submitted: 2/23/2014 7:13:21 AM : Outperform Start Price: $345.19 AMZN Score: -6.61

Amazon is a leader in ecommerce - the leader! Stock price will grow, despite recent dips. The dip may be a leveling due to over inflation, but over time, this company will consistently perform. A good pick.

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Member Avatar Zoso (23.76) Submitted: 2/21/2014 9:26:03 AM : Outperform Start Price: $352.44 AMZN Score: -8.44

Some seem to think Amazon's momentum is over. The stock's recent slide seems to support this view. However, the percentage of purchases made online vs. at stores is going to continue to increase. I mean, why not? Better selection, better prices, delivered right to you front door within a couple of days. In the near future, who can really compete with Amazon? I'm sure others will come along but it will take a while for anybody to catch up. I know when I'm looking for something to buy, I immediately go to Amazon, nothing else enters my mind.

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