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Why the Amazon Naysayers Should Be Scared

The company's latest earnings announcement shows it's firing on all cylinders
Why the Amazon Naysayers Should Be Scared
Photograph by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

Another quarter, another blowout earnings report for Amazon.com. The online retailer and technology juggernaut blew away analysts’ expectations on Thursday, posting $13.18 billion in revenue for the first three months of the year. The stock is up 13 percent. At this rate, the company will easily become the fastest retailer in history to cross $50 billion in sales for the year (it just missed in 2011). “The March quarterly results showed just enough upside in both revenues and margins to make the naysayers run for cover,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan wrote in a research note, sticking the shiv into the vociferous Amazon short-sellers.

The earnings report was yet another rousing movement in the entrepreneurial symphony being conducted in Seattle by Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bezos. Everything seems to be going right just now: His company is attracting new customers and third-party sellers, getting existing customers to spend more, and increasing profitability on new ventures such as Amazon Web Services and the Kindle. In the context of those improved margins, its expensive investment in its own operations, normally so disconcerting to Wall Street, now looks much less foreboding. Amazon added almost 10,000 employees in the past three months and now employs 65,600 people, up from 37,900 a year ago. It is building at least 13 new fulfillment centers in the U.S. this year, which will allow it to accelerate delivery and perhaps even expand its nascent grocery-delivery business beyond Seattle.