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Can Amazon beat expectations?

This article was written with the assistance of GPT-3.

The expectations: While Amazon’s Q4 guidance suggested the retailer would report its slowest-ever holiday season growth, the retailer appears likely to turn in a better-than-expected performance when it reports its earnings this afternoon, per Bloomberg.

By the numbers: Analysts estimate Amazon earned 17 cents per share, down from 29 cents per share a year earlier.

  • Bloomberg Second Measure, which tracks credit and debit card transactions, estimates Amazon’s US retail sales during the last three months of 2022 rose 9.3% year-over-year (YoY).
  • That would outpace Amazon's forecast, which expected revenues would rise between 2% and 8%.
  • Amazon is expected to post overall sales of $145.8 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, up 6% YoY, with net income expected at $1.98 billion, down 60% YoY.

Amazon's challenges: Amazon’s operating expenses have climbed at a faster pace than sales for more than a year.

  • The retailer has been working to slim down after rapid pandemic-era growth. It has slowed the opening of new warehouses, abandoned some facilities, and recently sold a Bay Area office complex that it had planned to convert to a logistics facility.
  • Amazon last month started a new round of layoffs that will eventually total 18,000 employees. Taking those salaries off the books should save Amazon about $2.1 billion this year and $3.3 billion in 2024, per estimates by Oppenheimer & Co. analysts.

Analyst take: Amazon, like many tech and retail companies, continues to pay the price for its overaggressive expansion throughout the pandemic. However, Amazon’s massive scale gives it several built-in advantages that should continue to drive growth.

  • The retailer aims to open a new revenue stream by expanding the reach of its Buy with Prime service, which enables retailers to use Amazon’s fulfillment and payments services—and, perhaps more importantly, to access the lucrative Amazon Prime customer base.
  • And it continues to dominate retail media; the retailer generated $29.11 billion in US retail media ad spending last year, per our forecast, and we expect that spending to grow 18.9% this year to $34.59 billion.