The New York Times has dropped a bomb on Amazon (a company associated with rival The Washington Post through founder Jeff Bezos). The newspaper reported on questionable human resources practices, not much more than what the e-commerce giant has already been accused of doing before.
CNBC’s Jim Cramer does not seem fazed by the bad press, at least in what pertains to the investment thesis – and the market seems to agree. Below, the Amazon Maven takes a closer look at the debate and weighs in on how it may impact Amazon stock (AMZN) - Get Report.
Amazon’s HR crisis
The New York Times has recently gone deeper into Amazon’s human resources crisis – which helped to spark the the labor union efforts in Alabama. The gist of it: the e-commerce giant has not been the most sensible at managing their warehouse workers, overemphasizing productivity and encouraging turnover.
When it comes to employee relations, Amazon has not been known as a role model. Whether the reports have merits or not, Amazon has been accused of working their warehouse workers to exhaustion, unreasonably limiting lunch and restroom breaks, among other practices.
However, at least regarding the investment thesis, none of it seems to have impacted Amazon stock. Case in point, shares barely moved on the day that the New York Times’ bombshell was published, while they have climbed 6% in the past week and a half alone.
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Jim Cramer still likes Amazon stock
Jim Cramer recognizes that the report on Amazon’s HR practices is not a good look for the e-commerce and cloud company, and it may reflect underlying issues that should be addressed. He stated:
“Maybe Amazon should change its work practices. I did not like what [the New York Times] said. […] If people at Amazon read that article, they might say ‘you know what, we have to put more money in human resources’, and that would certainly be very good.”
But the host of Mad Money also looked at the issue from a different angle, concluding that the investment thesis on AMZN is likely much less dependent on the company’s (still important, mind you) human resources policies:
“I am not going to switch to Walmart. […] The idea that we will somehow stop using Amazon because of the article is not something that anyone who wrote the article believes in.”
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The Amazon Maven’s take
Jim Cramer is likely right about this. At the core of the investment opportunity in Amazon stock is the massive growth potential in e-commerce, both domestically and internationally, and in cloud adoption – a trend that is still far from reaching its peak.
The HR crisis could give Amazon a black eye, from a PR perspective. But rarely, if ever, have issues like labor or supplier relations severely damaged a growth story in the past, which tends to be driven by different factors altogether: consumption trends, economic strength, etc.
If anything, should Amazon choose to act and address the HR issue, costs could rise in the foreseeable future. Keep in mind that the company will soon undergo a CEO transition, and incumbent Andy Jassy may want to tackle the issue right away.
But luckily for the company and shareholders, the market has never cared much about Amazon’s margins, choosing instead to focus on the top-line firepower. Amazon already spends lavishly on data center and fulfilment infrastructure: $40 billion in capex and nearly $90 billion in SG&A in 2020 alone.
Bumping up the costs on the HR side would probably be just another drop in the bucket, not one that is likely to translate into share price weakness.
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How much has the recent New York Times’ report on Amazon’s HR practices impacted your opinion about AMZN stock and the investment opportunity? Leave your opinion below and follow @AmazonMaven on Twitter!
(Disclaimers: this is not investment advice. The author may be long one or more stocks mentioned in this report. Also, the article may contain affiliate links. These partnerships do not influence editorial content. Thanks for supporting The Amazon Maven)