Don't be shocked by this call.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Get Report) shares opened at a record high Wednesday, and could become the second U.S. company after Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) to break the trillion dollar market value barrier, after Morgan Stanley lifted its price target on the online retailing giant, citing expanding sales margins and its dominant cloud computing business.
Both tech giants are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club.
Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak lifted his price target by 35% to $2,500 a share Wednesday, implying a market value of $1.2 trillion, while keeping his 'overweight' rating on the stock in a client note that included an upgrade for Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL - Get Report) . Nowak said the group's high growth, high-margin revenues -- such was web services, advertizing and subscriptions -- give it room to both invest and generate higher profits for investors over the near term.
"The (price target) adjustment reflects Amazon's improving business mix, long-term potential earnings power than its previous three-part sum-of-the-parts price target calculation," Nowak said.
Amazon shares gained 1.5% in the opening minutes of trading Wednesday to change hands at $1,962.00 each, a record high that takes its year-to-date gain past 67% and value the Seattle, Wash.-based group at $956 billion. Apple became the first company in the world top the $1 trillion market value threshold on August 1 when its shares hit a then-record high of $207.39. Apple was marked 0.5% higher at the opening bell and trading at $220.72 each.
Amazon posted a forecast-busting set of second quarter earnings in late July that included a bottom line of $5.07 per share, more than double the consensus forecast of $2.48 and up from just 40 cents a share over the same period last year, on group sales of just under $53 billion. Amazon also said it sees net income for the three months ending in September, its fiscal third quarter, coming in between $1.4 billion and $2.4 billion, again firmly ahead of analysts' forecasts of around $840 million, thanks in part to the performance of the group's high margin cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
AWS revenue rose 49% year-over-year to $6.11 billion, matching the first quarter growth rate and topping a consensus estimate of $5.98 billion. In addition to AWS's performance, Amazon's EPS got a boost from the fact that the North American segment's operating income, which has been pressured by heavy spending, more than quadrupled to $1.84 billion.
"We're very happy with the results we're seeing, and the backlog that we see, and the new contracts and new customers and the expansion of existing customer business that we see," CFO Brian Olsavsky told reporters on a conference call following the earnings. "Again, the business has accelerated the last three quarters, and we're seeing great signs in a number of areas.
"The operating margin itself will fluctuate quarter-to-quarter, a very strong performance this quarter," he added. "Obviously, part of that was in the capital leases being flat year-over-year, and the team's ability to really run the data centers at a higher efficiency."