business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a good piece about, in which it frames the story this way:

"Nearly every day, Amazon announces a new venture.

"It just bought an online education company and introduced a payment mechanism for Internet retailers that competes with PayPal. It started selling wine for the first time in New York, updated its line of tablets, gave the go-ahead to three new comedy pilots and began a design competition for its fashion division. It is setting up mini-warehouses inside suppliers like Procter & Gamble to ship goods faster.

"But one thing it will not be announcing this month: a significant profit.

"Who cares? Amazon lost money in 2012, and analysts are anticipating another loss when the company releases its third-quarter results on Thursday. Yet the stock is at a record high.

"Amazon shares are up around 150 percent since mid-2010, which perhaps not coincidentally was the last time the company had sizable profits. In other words, investors really decided they loved the company only when net income began to slide."

The debate right now seems to be about Amazon's immediate future - whether the company will begin raising prices as a way of generating profits, or whether CEO/founder Jeff Bezos will continue to play what appears to be a market share game, without the kind of regard for profits that most analysts seem to think he ought to have.
KC's View:
I could be wrong about this, but it has been my feeling for a long time that Amazon and its CEO are absolutely disciplined enough to continue playing the market share game, that Jeff Bezos believes that the technological and cultural shifts of the past 15 years play to his company's strengths, and he understands that as bold as the company has been, any deviation from its image as a place where pricing is sharp could be fatal. (I'd bet that he went to school on Netflix's public relations problems of a few years ago.)

Sure, profits are an issue. But Bezos also understands that a lot of retail companies have gotten into trouble when they started worrying more about Wall Street than Main Street.