Background: Amazon seeks to be the world's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they may want to buy online. Amazon trades an average of 3.3 million shares per day with a marketcap of $116.6 billion.
52-Week Range: $166.97 - $264.11AMZN Earnings Per Share Growth data by YCharts
Analysts as a whole like this company. Currently, AMZN has 23 buy recommendations out of 33 analysts covering the company, 10 holds, and none of the analysts give a sell rating. The average analyst target price for AMZN is $266.26. I know this will come up in comments, so let me address this ahead of time. I shop and like Amazon (mostly), but that is not relevant to investing capital. AMZN Return on Equity data by YCharts
The trailing 12- month price-to-earnings ratio is 318, the mean fiscal year estimate price-to-earnings ratio is 337, based on earnings of 77 cents per share this year. It's just crazy and unsustainable. Even if we allow for the full next year estimate of $2.41 in earnings Amazon still carries a multiple of over a 100. That's 100 years of earnings to pay for one share. Take it one step further and give the company another double in earnings and round up to $5 a share for the following year. You still have an earnings multiple that requires an oxygen tank to breathe. To suggest Amazon is priced to perfection doesn't quite hit the mark; extreme perfection is required to have a glimmer of hope in this working out well. History has shown that stocks with earnings multiples over 20 don't perform as well as the overall market. Always the same story too: this time it's different and "disrupt" this and that and the other thing. In the end, the only thing that matters to investors is they make money. Playing musical chairs using the song "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (17 minutes long) may create the illusion that laws of return on investment don't apply -- they do, but sometimes the market has a cruel sense of humor. AMZN Revenue Growth data by YCharts
In 2007, the darling was Crocs (CROX), in 2008 solar was to change everything, in 2009 and into 2010 it was education stocks, 2011 Netflix (NFLX) was unstoppable. Is 2012 the year for Amazon, maybe or maybe not, but to argue it isn't going to happen is the same as arguing the earnings will rise from 77 pennies this year up to over $25 a share rather quickly. Good luck with that one, and remember "never confuse a bull market with brains". AMZN Operating Margin TTM data by YCharts
I use Zacks.com, WSJ.com, Tradestation, and Reuters for my data. PE is generally adjusted PE based on an average number of shares. At the time of publication, the author was short Amazon. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.