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Amazon's Black Box

Specific details on the performance of initiatives such as Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime and Amazon Web Services, some of the company's most ambitious projects, are never revealed, except to say that Amazon is pleased with them. When asked about how Fresh is doing, Amazon's Senior Vice President and CFO Thomas J. Szkutak said while the economics originally were tough, with the team doing a lot of experiments, he didn't have much to offer, other than to say that Amazon is pleased. "And it's very early there [in LA], we're still in the trial period, it's good customer experience and we like what we see so far, but it's very, very early," Szkutak said on the call. "And so, it's something that we'll continue to work on and both from a customer experience and from an economic standpoint. And there is not much more I can add to that right now, so you have to stay tuned and see where that ends up."

It's comments like that that drive me and so many others mad. Sometimes it feels like the CIA and the NSA give more disclosure than Amazon does, despite it being a PUBLIC company!

The Kindle ecosystem "seems" to be performing well, as UBS analyst Eric Sheridan noted the strength in North American Media revenue, with overall North American revenue growing 30% year over year. "This result highlights the growing importance of hardware/software ecosystems to media consumption (i.e. NA Media strength in 1H due to a larger Kindle install base)," Sheridan wrote in the report. However, no one really knows just how well the Kindle ecosystem is doing, because it's lumped in with everything else in Media.

Shares of Amazon are down around 1.6% as of the time of writing, but given the fact the majority of analysts continue to remain bullish (with Jefferies raising its price target to $350 following the call), it wouldn't be a shock to see Amazon eventually trade higher today, should the market cooperate.

I'm just not sure what it's based on, since the company gives you little if anything, to go by.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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