That, together with an understanding that Amazon is once more sacrificing some near-term profits to drive additional growth, could give Jeff Bezos' firm some leeway as it posts its Q3 report. On average, analysts polled by FactSet expect Amazon to report Q3 revenue of $68.83 billion (up 22% annually) and GAAP EPS of $4.59 (down 20%).
Amazon's report should also feature Q4 revenue and operating income guidance -- and given that Q4 is a seasonally big quarter, these numbers are bound to get a lot of attention. For Q4, the consensus is for revenue of $87.39 billion (up 21%) and operating income of $4.19 billion (up 11%).
TheStreet will be live-blogging Amazon's Q3 report, which is expected after the bell on Thursday, along with an earnings call that starts at 5:30 P.M. Eastern Time. Please check our home page after the close for more details.
Here are some things for investors to keep an eye on:
1. North American and International Segment Growth
With the help of the company's 1-day Prime shipping initiative, Amazon's North American segment, which covers all of its North American operations outside of AWS, saw its revenue growth accelerate to 20% in Q2 from a Q1 rate of 17%. For Q3, which once more hosted Amazon's annual Prime Day event, the consensus is for North American revenue to grow 21% to $41.66 billion.
Amazon's International segment, which covers all of its non-North American operations outside of AWS, is expected to post revenue of $17.8 billion (up 15%). A strong dollar has been a headwind for International revenue in recent quarters.
2. Amazon's E-Commerce Revenue Mix
In Q2, the 1-day shipping effort helped revenue growth for Amazon's "online stores" (direct e-commerce) operations accelerate to 14% from a Q1 rate of 10%. The company's third-party seller services operations, which cover commissions, fulfillment services and other revenue streams related to marketplace sales, saw growth accelerate to 23% from a Q1 rate of 20%.
For Q3, the consensus is for online stores revenue to be 16% to $33.67 billion, and for seller services revenue to be up 27% to $13.16 billion. It's worth noting here that seller services revenue features a higher gross margin than online stores revenue.
3. AWS's Performance
Amazon Web Services (AWS), still by far the world's biggest public cloud services provider, is coming off a Q2 in which its revenue growth slowed to 37% from a Q1 rate of 41% and a Q4 2018 rate of 45%. As a result, analysts are choosing to be a little cautious with their Q3 estimates, forecasting AWS revenue will grow 36% to $9.1 billion. The segment's operating income, which is being pressured a bit by depreciation expenses tied to a pickup in capital spending, is expected to grow 22% to $2.54 billion.
4. Subscription and Advertising Growth
Amazon's subscription services revenue, which consists largely of Amazon Prime membership fees and (to a lesser extent) digital content subscriptions, is expected to be up 35% in Q3 to $5 billion, following 37% growth in Q2.
The company's "Other" revenue, which is dominated by its burgeoning ad business, is expected to be up 37% for the second straight quarter, and total $3.43 billion.
5. Spending Growth, Particularly for Shipping
The 1-day effort resulted in Amazon's shipping expense growth accelerating to 36% in Q2 from just 21% in Q1. And between the expansion of this effort, Prime Day and Amazon's recent willingness to provide free shipping for more low-cost items, all signs suggest shipping expenses grew rapidly again in Q3.
Also keep an eye on spending growth in areas. In Q2, Amazon saw its marketing spend, tech/content spend and purchases of property and equipment via capital leases (driven by AWS capex) grow 48%, 25% and 42%, respectively.
6. Gross Margin
While Amazon's ongoing revenue mix shift towards services relative to direct e-commerce sales continues providing a lift to its gross margin (GM), higher shipping expense growth is a near-term headwind, as is higher depreciation and amortization expense growth due to data center and content investments.
In Q2, Amazon's GAAP GM rose by 0.6 percentage points annually to 42.7%. For Q3, the consensus is for GM to be up by just 0.1 points to 41.8%.
7. Commentary About Offline Retail Efforts
Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is preparing to open a grocery store chain that would be separate from Whole Foods and "cater to middle-income consumers." The first stores are reportedly due to open in the Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia metro areas.
Any commentary shared by Amazon's management on the Q3 call about the company's offline retail strategy is worth paying attention to -- particularly in light of the momentum that Walmart(WMT) - Get Reporthas been seeing lately for its grocery pickup and delivery services.
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