Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Grocery Wars

Amazon is Growing but is it Making Money?

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is finally reporting some financial numbers for second quarter 2017, and they offer the same old story. The Everything Store is still growing like mad and making a lot of money.

As usual, the biggest story is the revenue which cleared $150 billion for the first time – growing to $150.12 billion on 30 June 2017. Amazon added $7.55 billion in revenue during the second quarter; its revenues started at $142.57 billion in March and finished at $150.12 billion.

Those numbers are without Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM). If Whole Foods were added to the mix, Amazon’s revenues would increase to $166 billion. Whole Foods reported $15.88 billion in revenues on June 30, 2017.

The $166 billion figure is likely because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the Whole Foods deal on August 23, The Washington Post reported. That deal will give Amazon a 2% share of the US grocery market – which is tiny when compared to Walmart’s 20%.

Why Amazon Needs Whole Foods

The merger might not be that big a deal to investors because Amazon is still growing like crazy without it. The Everything Store’s revenues increased by $29.48 billion; a figure that exceeds Macy’s (NYSE: M) total revenues, during the 12 months between June 2016 and June 2017.

Macy’s reported $25.03 billion in revenues on July 31, 2017. Amazon reported $150.12 billion in revenues on June 30, 2017. If revenue trends continue and the Whole Foods’ deal goes through, Amazon’s revenues might reach the $200 billion level by the end of 2017.

That would make Amazon the second-largest retailer in America by terms of revenue. Currently, it is number three behind Walmart (NYSE: WMT) ($490.01 billion in revenues on July 31, 2017), and CVS Health (NYSE: CVS); which reported $180.78 billion in revenues on 30 June 2017.

It looks as if Amazon’s growth is unhindered and might be about to speed up. One has to wonder what would happen if Amazon were to acquire something like Macy’s, Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN), Rite Aid (NYSE: RAD), Safeway or Best Buy (NYSE: BBY). Or if Whole Foods or its’ subsidiary 360 were to embark on a major expansion.

Is Amazon Making Money?

Amazon looks great as a growth stock, but is it making money? The answer is yes, but like many retailers, it has limited cash.

Here’s some proof that Amazon is making a lot of money, but nowhere near enough to justify its’ ridiculous stock price:

  • A net income of $1.922 billion on June 30, 2017. This number actually dropped by $660 million during the second quarter, Amazon reported an income of $2.582 billion in March 2017.


  • A free cash flow of $1.328 billion on June 30, 2017. This was definitely an improvement from the -$3.45 billion reported in March 2017.

  • A minuscule profit margin of .52% for Second Quarter. This is not that different from other retail giants, Kroger (NYSE: KR) reported a profit margin of .84% on April 30, 2017.


  • $17.06 billion in cash from operations on June 30, 2017. Unlike the income, this number keeps growing; it was $13.05 billion in June 2016 and $16.81 billion in March 2017.


  • $87.78 billion in assets on June 30, 2017. This is the highest figure ever, it marks a substantial increase over the $65.08 billion reported in June 2016 and the $80.97 billion from March 2017.


  • $21.45 billion in cash and short-term investments on June 30, 2017. This number is down from $21.53 billion in March 2017 but up from $16.54 billion in June 2016.


  • A market capitalization of $463.60 billion on September 5, 2017, which is ridiculous.

  • An enterprise value of $456.16 billion on 5 September 2017, which sounds about right.


Is Amazon a Value Investment?

Amazon has some value-investment characteristics including a lot of cash and the ability to generate vast amounts of cash on a regular basis. The problem is that unlike companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Alphabet, and Apple, it cannot keep that cash around.

All this points to a big danger at Amazon; high operating costs which can quickly spiral out of control. Closely related to the operating expenses are expansion costs, which might be exceeding the price of operations.

If you watch the news, you’ve probably noticed that Amazon seems to be breaking ground on a new fulfillment center every week. All that is pretty expensive and it is on top of the $13.70 billion being paid for Whole Foods.

This makes Amazon extremely vulnerable to outside forces including growing oil prices. At the end of the day, Amazon depends on low oil prices because the vans, semis, ships, trains, and planes that move its merchandise to market run on petroleum products. Until electric vehicles and Hyperloop become widespread. that’s not about to change.

Therefore Amazon is definitely far from a value investment, instead, it’s’ an overpriced and risky speculative play at $964.60 a share (the price on September 5, 2017). Smart investors should stay away from Amazon for now and buy into those companies that sell products and services to it – if they want to make money.