Earnings Season: Amazon’s $100bn quarter still misses expectations

Despite huge sales, Amazon shares took a knock after the ecommerce pioneer reported its Q2 earnings. Here’s why.

Amazon earnings

Amazon’s headline stats

It’s a third $100bn quarter in a row for Amazon, but its stock price wasn’t too ecstatic about these huge figures. AMZN stock fell 7% in extended trading on Thursday following the firm’s Q2 2021 earnings report.

Why? Despite clocking in at an eyewatering $113.08 billion, revenues still fell short of market estimates of $115.2bn.

Even with Q2 sales growing 27% year-on-year, this showed a slowdown in Amazon’s growth compared against the 41% year-on-year growth seen in Q2 2020.

Key takeaway stats from the Amazon earnings reports are:

  • Earnings per share – $15.12 vs $12.30 estimated
  • Revenue – $113.03bn vs $115.2bn

So good news on the EPS front, but still that sales drop off has caused investors to feel less optimistic regarding amazon.

The rise and rise in sales in 2020, and the rapid growth rates, is essentially all tied in with the pandemic. With shoppers essentially stuck at home, online retail boomed worldwide. With Amazon already the number one global retailer, it’s only natural that it benefited greatly from homebound consumers.

With economies opening up once more, and shoppers shifting their spending from products to experiences, like trips, leisure activities and dining, the sales drop isn’t so surprising.

Even so, Prime Day, Amazon’s showpiece sales event, took place in June this year. 250 million items were sold then – more than any other Prime Day to date.

New CEO Andy Lassy has taken the reins from founder and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos this quarter. Speaking to reporters, Lassy was quick to point out that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is on a strong growth footing, which may comfort investors.

In the quarter ending June, AWS sales totalled $14.8bn showing annualised growth of 37%. This particular sector outperformed Amazon’s wider retail business. It also outperformed its rate of expansion in Q2 2020, which was measured at 29%.

It was partly AWS’ success, alongside high profitability in the cloud-computing, subscriptions, and advertising segments, that helped earnings smash Wall Street expectations.

Amazon guidance

CFO Brian Olsvasky has said Amazon expects to record sales between $106bn and $112bn in quarter three. That would be growth of around 10-16%, compared against the same period in 2020.

Once again, this falls shorts of consensus estimates. Wall Street was predicting Q3 sales to accelerate further to reach $119.2bn.

Amazon’s FAANG contemporaries also believe their revenues will fall away from pandemic highs in 2021’s third quarter. Apple, for instance, has cited supply chain difficulties affecting its ability to sustain its high Q2 performance. Like Amazon, this led to a drop in its share price.

“Our customers are safe and healthy and ordering from us. And we know that there’ll be more vacations or be more mobility. They’ll be things that probably people shied away from last year and that’s all good,” Olsavsky said. “But it does tend to lead them to do other things besides shop. So, we’re just adjusting our run rates in the period that we see that happening.”

To see which large caps are still due to report on Wall Street this season, make sure you check out our earnings calendar.