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Amazon Stock at $3,200: Buy, Sell, or Hold?

Shares of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) have surged this year, reflecting consumers' growing appetite for e-commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic. The stock is up a whopping 75% year to date, crushing the S&P 500's 6% gain over this same time frame.

With such a wild run-up, some investors may feel like they've missed their chance to get in on this growth stock. But have they? A close look at the e-commerce and cloud computing giant's business suggests the company may still be in its early innings, despite already dominating online shopping. With so much potential for further business growth, is the stock still attractive today -- even at about $3,200 per share?

Image source: Getty Images.

Soaring sales

Investors had big expectations for Amazon's second quarter. With many consumers sheltering at home and lots of businesses operating at limited capacity or even shut down entirely, it made sense that e-commerce would benefit.

Despite these inflated expectations, Amazon still blew away analyst estimates for the quarter. Revenue surged 40% year over year to $88.9 billion while earnings per share skyrocketed from $5.22 in the year-ago period to $10.30. Analysts on average were expecting revenue of about $81.5 billion and earnings per share of $1.46.

Management expects strong momentum to persist in Q3. The company guided for revenue during the period to be between $87 billion and $93 billion, representing 24% to 33% year-over-year growth. Of course, Amazon's guidance is typically conservative; so analysts are modeling for revenue to come in toward the high end of this range.

While the unusual circumstances that have accelerated e-commerce adoption by both consumers and businesses won't always be here to catalyze Amazon's sales, investors should note that Amazon was still growing rapidly before the pandemic. Full-year 2019 sales increased 20% year over year to $280.5 billion.

Given Amazon's torrid sales growth, it's safe to say that these are still early days for the company, particularly when you consider how much room there is for e-commerce sales to grow. E-Commerce accounted for just 14% of global retail sales in 2019, and that figure is expected to steadily climb, hitting 22% of global retail sales by 2023, according to data from Statista.

What about the stock's valuation?

But here's where Amazon stock may give many investors pause. The stock has a price-to-earnings ratio of 123. On the surface, that might seem unjustifiable. But here's what investors should understand: Amazon's earnings are soaring.

Image source: Getty Images.

With trailing-12-month sales of $322 billion, Amazon's business is now benefiting from significant economies of scale. Consider how Amazon's second-quarter net income of $5.2 billion was up from $2.6 billion in the year-ago period.

Looking ahead, analysts expect even more uncanny bottom-line growth rates. The consensus analyst estimate currently models for Amazon's earnings per share to compound at an average rate of 36% annually over the next five years.

As the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant's revenue continues to grow at double-digit rates, fixed costs will decrease meaningfully as a percentage of sales, leading to significant operating leverage. This will likely fuel substantial bottom-line growth for years to come.

Even at about $3,200 per share, Amazon stock looks like a buy.

Of course, investors should mind the risks associated with buying any individual stock, namely expected volatility and the potential for unexpected challenges to arise. But Amazon's early lead in e-commerce has given the company a moat-like competitive advantage so far, and it wouldn't be surprising to see this narrative continue to play out over the next decade.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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