Stop Hating Amazon, It Can Spend-and-Grow Forever

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- On Wednesday night at 9 p.m., I ordered a Samsung television set from (AMZN).

The Amazon bots initially slated delivery for Saturday. However, just over four hours after placing the order, I received confirmation that my order had been shipped and would arrive by Friday.

That's nothing short of incredible.

I live in Santa Monica, Calif., just west of Los Angeles. At 1:32:50 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 11, United Parcel Service ( UPS) timestamped my package in Phoenix. At 2:38:00 p.m. on that day, the package arrived in Vernon, Calif.

As is typical of my Amazon experience, the package will go out for delivery first thing Friday morning and arrive at my house around midday.

That's a roughly 42-hour turnaround from click to purchase at the Amazon Website to the arrival of a freaking television set at my doorstep. And I was able to sit at home for weeks stewing over the decision to buy a TV despite the NHL lockout, while waiting for my price.

Before tax, my boob tube cost $297.99 (marked down from $419.99). After tax, which Amazon just started collecting in California, it came to $325.55. Of course, as an Amazon Prime member I received free shipping.

Few people disagree that Amazon provides remarkable services. Bears, however, argue that a good product or service does not necessarily equate to a sustainable business and sound investment. They cannot seem to understand why investors continue to support and periodically run up the company's stock price.

Amazon Lets Investors Sleep at Night

Over the last six months, AMZN has even outperformed Apple ( AAPL) by roughly 30%.

I don't understand what all the bearish fuss is about.

More than anything, particularly in perpetual startups, investors want to see growth, particularly revenue growth.

In that regard, Amazon delivers quarter after quarter. For the second quarter, worldwide revenue increased 29% year-over-year. For the third quarter, which Amazon reports on Oct. 25, the company expects revenue growth between 19% and 31%. And then, of course, there's the October/November/December holiday quarter. Enough said.

Bears lament what they like to call "razor-thin margins" and profitability, which Amazon does not expect to achieve for the most recent quarter. That's a pretty easy argument to make. It's convincing. It pays, however, to provide some context alongside it.

In addition to revenue growth, investors also want transparency and visibility. Amazon provides both. In fact, the company's CFO, Tom Szkutak, probably runs the most straightforward, easy-to-follow conference call in the business. You don't need an MBA to understand what is a refreshingly accessible call.

Amazon bears don't need to listen to the conference calls, though. They have made their minds up already. It's much easier to regurgitate the same headlines -- like political slogans -- about margins and profits until they become Internet legend.

That's exactly what they've become. Urban legend. Folk tales. Biblical parables. Internet meme.

As I highlighted in a recent article on Amazon, the media has grilled Jeff Bezos about profitability versus spending since 1999. He has been answering the same way for 13 years. Paraphrasing here, As long as we have massive long-term opportunity in front of us, we will spend to take advantage of that opportunity and grow for the long-term.

Quarter after quarter, Amazon not only speaks about opportunity, it illustrates it by reporting past and predicting future growth. Nobody can question Amazon's growth trajectory.

The company, with absolutely nothing to hide, follows the discussion of growth and growth prospects with straight talk about expenses. Here's Szkutak from the second-quarter call:
Our Q2 2012 capital expenditures were $657 million, the increase in capital expenditures reflects additional investments in support of continued business growth ...
We expect Q3 capital expenditures including capitalized software development to be approximately $0.8 billion to $0.9 billion. These anticipated investments are driven primarily by our expectations of a continued business growth consisting of investments in technology infrastructure, including Amazon web service and additional capacity to support our fulfillment operations.

I'm getting all of this from the webcast of Amazon's second-quarter call. It's public information. You can listen to it as well. Live when it happens. In the archive after the fact. Again, Amazon's not hiding a darn thing.

Investors reward growth. And they reward companies who provide transparency into the business. Amazon presents a straightforward proposition. It leaves nothing for investors to wonder about. That's why the stock rebounds so nicely after a pullback on noise or some other phantom disappointment.

It's really simple math. Massive growth now. Enormous future growth potential. This requires a considerable amount of spending on the ecosystem, the customer experience and capacity.

If Amazon sees growth moderate, it will pull back on the spending cycle, thus easing pressure on margins and profitability.

But, if Amazon never pulls back on spending it's actually a good sign. That means the company still sees opportunity. It will spend at the level necessary to remain the leader not only in e-commerce, but in retail and related spaces.

In other words, don't bet against Amazon. They've been doing it the way I outline here, in some way or form, for 13 years. Fits and starts and bearish frenzies aside, Amazon could, theoretically, continue to do this forever.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Rocco Pendola is a private investor with nearly 20 years experience in various forms of media, ranging from radio to print. His work has appeared in academic journals as well as dozens of online and offline publications. He uses his broad experience to help inform his coverage of the stock market, primarily in the technology, Internet and new media spaces. He has taken a long-term approach to investing, focusing on dividend-paying stocks, since he opened his first account as a teenager. Pendola, 37, is based in Santa Monica, Calif., where he lives with his wife and child.

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