When Amazon.com (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report reports third-quarter earnings on Thursday after the markets close, the e-commerce giant's cloud computing and fulfillment businesses are likely to command the most attention.
Wall Street is anticipating $32.69 billion of revenue and $0.78 in earnings per share, according to FactSet.
Amazon shares closed down about 1.5% Wednesday but were up slightly to $824.44 on Thursday. Its stock is up about 22% year-to-date.
"If we had to limit the number of factors that would determine how Amazon.com's shares will perform after the company reports earnings to one, that factor would be its AWS sales growth," wrote Maxim Group analyst Tom Forte in a recent note, adding that he is anticipating a 52.5% growth in the cloud division's revenue to $3.18 billion.
Amazon Web services has been a big growth engine for the Seattle-based e-commerce company as firms increasingly shift toward the cloud in which remote servers on the Internet are used to store information. The unit has been generating explosive growth even as its rivals -- Microsoft's (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report Azure and Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google Cloud Platform -- have intensified their competition.
In Q2, AWS grew 58% year-over-year and posted $2.9 billion in revenue. AWS posted a 70% growth rate last year.
Forte further added that Jeff Bezos' empire has been working to improve the capacity and yield from its fulfillment centers, and that such efforts should increase revenue and profitability in the fourth quarter. It opened 18 fulfillment centers this past quarter in comparison to just six over the corresponding period the prior year.
The e-commerce company has been building out its fulfillment capacities to allow more third-party vendors to warehouse and ship goods through Amazon.
"We are interested in learning more about management's initiatives to maximize yield in its fulfillment centers from its Fulfillment by Amazon effort in the upcoming holiday quarter," Forte wrote, adding that the company's sphere of influence will continue to grow especially as it expands its footprint in apparel and grocery.
Among key metrics are Amazon's gross margin and operating margin, wrote RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney in a Tuesday note.
He elaborated that the company's investments in international markets, AWS and Pillar Projects (its retail marketplace, Amazon Prime and AWS) will likely continue weighing on profitability.
"AMZN remains a core long for us because a) its two key end-markets (Retail & Cloud computing) are only 10% penetrated; b) the Competitive Moats around AMZN are getting deeper and its flywheels are spinning faster ... c) excellent execution," Mahaney noted, adding that the company has already started to play in several new segments that has the potential to become Pillars.