Amazon (AMZN) may be teetering on a $1 trillion market cap -- but its stock has sagged close to 5% since Labor Day. Should investors be concerned?
As TheStreet's Brian Sozzi noted, the powerhouse tech stock is worth keeping an eye on because of its outsized impact on the broader market. With a $969 billion market cap as of Tuesday's close, Amazon accounts for about 4% of the S&P 500 and is the second most-valuable public company behind Apple.
DA Davidson's Tom Forte suggests that the drop isn't anything specific to Amazon, but more due to the general shakiness recently in the tech sector.
"I don't think there are any company-specific events to suggest that the stock should be weak; it seems like there's been some choppiness in tech shares," Forte said.
The FAANG gang has had a less than rosy summer, aggravated by Facebook's disastrous earnings report and ongoing government scrutiny into Alphabet (GOOGL) , Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) . And trade war rhetoric, which has been simmering since President Trump announced two rounds of tariffs on Chinese goods in April and July, is another likely source of tech stock anxiety.
But Forte argues that between the two, Amazon could wind up relatively unscathed in a trade scuffle because of several factors: One, its popular hardware products such as the Echo, Fire and Kindle devices haven't been publicly singled out for tariffs, while some of Apple's products -- the Apple Watch, AirPods and others -- have. Of note, hardware sales also account for a far smaller share of Amazon's total business than is the case for Apple.
Another factor is a relatively esoteric, but potentially impactful move by the Trump administration to try to modify terminal dues, which are very inexpensive dues applied to international shipments coming in to the U.S. In an August memorandum, President Trump wrote that terminal dues should "avoid a preference for inbound foreign small packages containing goods that favors foreign mailers over domestic mailers." The current system is believed to favor international shippers, including Chinese sellers on marketplaces such as those run by Alibaba (BABA) .
Trump has tussled with Amazon over its relationship with the US Postal Service, which it uses for some shipping services (Trump once labeled Amazon's deal with USPS a "scam" and threatened to raise its rates). But there's a lobbying effort underway by a coalition of companies in the delivery business, including Amazon. Called the Package Coalition, its goals include persuading the government to keep shipping rates low for U.S. businesses. If those efforts prove successful, Amazon could stand to further gain against Chinese competitor Alibaba.
All told, the trade war situation is complex and developing -- but there seems to be little cause for panic at this point.
"An argument could be made that the success of federal efforts to level the playing field could be a net benefit -- the shipping example for instance, and Alibaba having an unfair advantage." Forte added. "That could be good for Amazon."
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