Why I Love Amazon but Hate the Stock

NEW YORK (TheStreet -- The great debate about Amazon (AMZN) continues, and year to date at least, with shares down 28%, it appears that those of us who believe that the stock was overpriced, are winning.

It also looks like TheStreet columnist Rocco Pendola, an Amazon permabull, is going to owe some fellow contributors burgers and beers if the stock stays on its current course.

AMZN ChartAMZN data by YCharts

In my view, the bull and bear arguments for Amazon boil down to one main theme -- that being the disconnect between price and valuation. Perhaps stated better, it's the difference between Amazon from the lens of the consumer, versus the lens of the astute investor.

For consumers, there's very little not to like about Amazon. The site has saved my bacon numerous times when we've needed a gift, book, or some other item, but did not have time to hit the local stores.

The pricing is usually very favorable, and there are not many times when the shipping has not been free.

Countless dollars have also been saved via the purchase of used books; Amazon has done for the used-book market what eBay (EBAY) has done for nearly everything else.

Yet, as an investor, I have no interest in owning the stock. Not at these levels. While the company has increased revenue nicely, the profits have not yet followed. I'm sure the bottom line will ultimately grow. Analysts' estimates for 2015 show earnings per share of $3.33, a considerable jump from estimates of $1.10 a share for this year.

The estimates for next year, however, imply a net income of about $1.6 billion, on estimated revenue of $109 billion. That equates to a paltry net profit margin of about 1.5%. That's a step in the right direction but does not get me excited.

This is a classic case of "love the product, hate the stock." It's not the popular opinion to have with Amazon, but I can't help it. I am a value investor.

I'd be willing to pay $100 for Amazon, or about 33 times forward earnings. That's a price that we are unlikely to see.

Meanwhile, the very reasons that I like Amazon as a Web site -- it's cheap, easy to use and requires little effort as a consumer -- are the reasons that I don't like the stock -- the company does not make any money.

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

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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