Thursday, October 25, 2012

Amazon reports a $28 million operating loss on sales of $13.81 billion, up 27% for the quarter

Is Amazon a mismanaged company that can not turn a profit despite generating enormous revenue – or a company acting like a start-up, building its franchise by building customer relationships and growing revenue?

The answer to that question will probably determine what an investor thinks the Q3 earnings report just released.

Amazon reported that its revenue grew in the quarter by 27 percent, to $13.81 billion. But the company, which had warned investors that it would record a loss this quarter, did so. Q3 of 2012 saw the company lose $28 million versus last year's quarter income of $79 million. (By way of comparison, Apple's last quarter saw its revenue grow by 22 percent, though its total numbers were higher.)

"Our approach is to work hard to charge less. Sell devices near breakeven and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low price point," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and CEO said in its statement.

In fact, that earnings statement reads more like a promotion piece, with much of it dedicated to selling the features of the Kindle Fire versus the recently announced iPad mini.

While Amazon's stock is getting hammered in after hours trading, Q3 is not that important a quarter for the online retailer compared to the one coming up.

Amazon's guidance, though, is pretty worthless as the company is claiming its income in Q4, which will include the holiday season, will be anywhere from a huge loss to record profits. The company made $260 million in Q4 of last year.

Amazon also said that the company expects revenue to grow in Q4 between 16 and 30 percent, also a pretty wide amount – maybe that is why investors are hurting the stock, it is hard to invest in a company that is not very transparent. Nonetheless, Bezos's strategy of undercutting other Android tablets has established the company as the only serious player in the tablet market other than Apple, though Microsoft clearly wants in the game very badly.