Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report is in so many markets -- from its historical base in e-commerce, to film and video, smart home electronics such as the Echo, cloud computing and even grocery stores with the purchase of Whole Foods Markets Inc. (WFM) -- that it can seem ubiquitous. Few parts of the economy are beyond Amazon's reach.
However, Jeff Bezos' digital juggernaut is not a bellwether in the model of the old General Electric Co. (GE) - Get Report , which had sprawling interests from home products to NBC to finance and industrial manufacturing.
"A bellwether tells you the health of and is indicative of the environment," The Benchmark Co. LLC analyst Daniel Kurnos explained. Amazon tells its own story -- not that of the broader U.S. economy. "I think they should grow faster than almost every economy frankly," Kurnos said.
Though Amazon's lower-than-expected second-quarter profits have the stock following 2.6% to $1,019 on Friday, revenues for the period still grew 25%.
While GE became a conglomerate of disparate assets, Kurons suggested, Amazon's portfolio of e-commerce, streaming video and theatrical film releases, cloud computing, groceries, meal kits and other products all tie back to the consumer demand that Bezos divines from the company's marketplaces and streams of data.
"It's all about winning the living room," Kurnos said. "Everything they do is oriented towards integrating themselves into your everyday life, so that they are unavoidable once you become a member of that chain its really hard to get out of it."
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Even as Amazon original "The Big Sick" plays in U.S. movie theaters this weekend, Kurnos suggests that Prime Video is really just an ad on for the Prime membership service. The Whole Foods purchase is less about a desire to go brick-and-mortar than a response to customers' desires. "There clearly was a need probably from their largest markets for Amazon to get more scale in the grocery space and this was the easiest way for them to do it," Kurnos said.
As Amazon continues to grow at 20%, it is hard to see it as an indicator of the U.S. economy or the other industries in which the company operates.
Cloud computing may be an exception. Amazon Web Service's 42% growth in the second quarter roughly tracks with the cloud computing market's 40% annual growth rate, according to Synergy Research Group. Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) - Get Report Azure is actually growing faster than AWS, though from a smaller base.
And as Amazon expands into more and more markets, it may come closer to reflecting the overall economy --unless regulators break up the company. Even Jeff Bezos must occasionally follow the law of gravity, as Amazon's earnings miss on Thursday reflects.
Even if Amazon's growth slows, Kurnos suggests, the company will still not be a bellwether for the larger economy.
"If there is a massive global recession are they going to be impacted? Sure," Kurons said. "But I guarantee you they will still outperform the rest of the industry and it will be harder to decipher from their results that things aren't good than it would be from somebody else who is clearly reliant on one specific demographic or section of the market."
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