Amazon Inc. (AMZN) - Get Report shares edged higher Thursday ahead of a first quarter earnings report that could lift the tally of Big Tech revenues past $315 billion and mark the beginning of the online retail giant's future without its founder, Jeff Bezos, at the helm.
Analysts expect Amazon to post a topline of $104.55 billion, an increase of around 38.5% from last year, with operating income of around $6 billion, or $9.54 per share. Amazon Web Services will contribute around a tenth of that revenue total, with the bulk of gains coming from online retail and third-party sellers.
Looking into the current quarter, investors will focus on Amazon's spending and investment plans, which include a hourly wage boost for fulfillment and delivery teams that will add more than $1 billion to its incremental employment costs.
That said, the $13 billion in COVID costs that Amazon has had to endure -- in part to ensure that market share losses to rivals such as Walmart and Target don't remain permanent -- will likely fade into the coming quarters as vaccination rates accelerate and states continue to relax business restrictions.
Updates on Bezos' 'transition' from CEO to executive chairman, which the tech giant revealed earlier this year, will also be in focus as AWS head Andy Jassy moves to replace Bezos and makes room for Adam Selipsky.
More broadly, however, Amazon's titanic first quarter revenue gains will lift the collective top line of the five largest S&P 500 companies -- Apple (AAPL) - Get Report, Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report, Amazon, Facebook (FB) - Get Report and Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Report -- to around $315.75 billion.
That compares to just $75 billion for companies sitting at five through ten -- Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report, JPMorgan (JPM) - Get Report, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report, Visa V and Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report -- and illustrates the top-heavy nature of the biggest U.S. benchmark and the worrying trend towards Big Tech dominance in financial markets
JPMorgan analysts noted this morning, in fact, that Apple's revenue beat -- which topped Wall Street forecasts by $12 billion -- was larger than the trailing one-year revenues of 330 S&P 500 companies.
Its $90 buyback boost, JPMorgan calculated, is greater than the market cap of 80% of the benchmark's stocks.
Amazon shares were marked 0.51% higher in early Thursday trading to change hands at $3,476.71 each, a move that extends the stock's year-to-date gain to around 6.75% and values the Seattle-based group at around $1.75 trillion.
Amazon will post its first quarter earnings at 4:00 PM Eastern time, with its investor conference call following 90 minutes later.