It's put up or shut up time for Amazon.
Jeff Bezos' colossus headlines a long list of tech companies that are reporting quarterly earnings on Thursday afternoon. On average, analysts polled by FactSet expect Amazon to report revenue of $41.58 billion (up 27% annually) and GAAP EPS of $0.02. Sales will get a boost from the late-August closing of Amazon.com Inc.'s (AMZN - Get Report) $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods, which posted $3.7 billion in revenue during its July quarter.
TheStreet will be hosting a live blog analyzing Amazon's third quarter earnings report and investor call after the market close on Thursday. Please check our home page for more details.
Amazon's stock was up 0.4% to $980 on Wednesday morning, and are up about 30% year to date.
Here are five key things to watch for:
1. Q4 sales guidance
Q4 accounted for 32% of Amazon's 2016 revenue, and should claim 30%-plus share this year as well. For that reason, Amazon's outlook for the quarter will probably have a bigger impact on how its shares move post-earnings than its Q3 sales numbers. The analyst consensus for Q4 is currently at $54.2 billion, implying 24% annual growth.
2. North American e-commerce segment growth
This figure has accelerated each of the past two quarters, as Amazon Prime turns into a way of life for more and more Americans. Can Amazon continue its momentum in the face of Walmart's (WMT - Get Report) attempts to slow it down? The consensus is for the segment's revenue to grow 27% to $24 billion; odds are that some (though likely not all) of these estimates take Whole Foods into account, however.
3. AWS growth
Amazon's cloud division growth slowed to 43% from 55% in Q1, and came in at 42% in Q2. Amazon is still quite dominant in the public cloud infrastructure market, but the law of large numbers -- and to a lesser extent tougher competition from Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) and Alphabet's (GOOGL - Get Report) Google -- might be catching up with it some. Can price cuts and aggressive efforts to land big enterprise deals reverse the trend? The consensus is for AWS revenue to rise 40% in Q3 to $4.52 billion.
4. Amazon Prime's growth
Amazon still doesn't break out its Prime subscriber count, but it has begun sharing its retail subscription services revenue, which from all signs is dominated by Prime membership fees. The number grew 51% in Q2 to $2.17 billion. Over the past few months, Amazon has stepped up its efforts to get lower-income consumers to sign up for Prime, in part by offering discounted memberships to those on government-assistance programs.
5. Spending growth
After slowing down its spending growth for much of 2015 and 2016, Amazon -- apparently banking on the goodwill Wall Street has been providing it -- is back to its old heavy-spending ways. This led it to miss Q2 EPS estimates in spite of a revenue beat and healthy gross margin growth, and also issue subdued Q3 operating income guidance. Look for the company to once more report big increases in fulfillment spend, tech/content spend and capex.
Jim Cramer also has his eyes on Alphabet's earnings:
This column has been updated from Oct. 12 to mention Amazon's earnings date and include up-to-date analyst estimates.
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