Amazon has a premium valuation despite profit decline
California Attorney General Rob Bonta last week accused Amazon of violating antitrust law, in the $1.3 trillion e-commerce giant’s biggest legal challenge yet, but Amazon says the idea it’s illegally squeezing its merchants is “exactly backwards.”
Whether the Californian AG prevails or not, investors have already granted Amazon a market valuation fit for a monopoly.
The lawsuit filed on Sept.14, blames Amazon for punishing retailers who list products for a cheaper price, stating this effectively sets a price floor for goods.
Amazon, meanwhile, argues that forcing it to showcase products at higher prices would be contrary to antitrust regulatory goals, which is valid point as antitrust tends to focus on consumer prices.
Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce may attract foes, but it also confers a premium stock price.
To accurately value the retail part of Amazon one would need to first analyse the more profitable cloud business, Amazon Web Services. Valued at the same 6 times revenue as Oracle, the AWS division would have an enterprise value of $370 billion.
This leaves the retail business with a valuation at close to $1 trillion, more than double Amazon’s retail sales last year.
When comparing against main retail rivals Walmart and Target, which both trade at under 0.9 times revenue, that benchmark is a reasonable multiple for Amazon once it reaches maturity, and its investors are confident that the company can generate upwards of $1.1 trillion in sales.
If two-thirds of that comes from North America, it’s equivalent to Amazon capturing 75% of the U.S. e-commerce market. Amazon’s revenue is not there yet, but the premium valuation is an implicit reflection of the company’s potential market power.
That’s not much use for Amazon’s political detractors as they try to hang lawsuits on what the company does now rather than what it might do later. But in the longer run, either Rob Bonta does have has it backwards, or Amazon’s shareholders do.