Shares of Amazon.com (AMZN 3.58%) have come down hard recently with the rest of the tech market. Currently, shares are down about 13.5% from their recent all-time highs. Yet considering that having more and more people stay at home is likely to help, not hurt, the e-commerce and cloud giant, it's a bit of a head-scratcher why Amazon stock is down at all.
Considering Amazon was coming off a very strong quarter before the coronavirus scare, investors may want to consider Amazon shares amid this fear-fueled sell-off.
The stay-at-home economy
As most know, Amazon is the outright leader in e-commerce, with somewhere between 37% and 48% market share, according to eMarketer. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the overall e-commerce market grew at 14.9% in 2019, making up 11% of all retail sales.
With just 11% of retail going to digital sales, there appears to be a long way for e-commerce to run in the U.S., and the coronavirus could be a catalyst that kicks it into another gear. The needs for a wide array of goods delivered quickly plays right into Amazon's Prime subscription offering, which has been offering free one-day shipping since mid-2019. Not only that, but Amazon recently accelerated its same-day shipping in a number of urban markets, installing mini-fulfillment centers closer and closer to customers in dense cities.
With people wary of venturing out to crowded shopping centers, malls, and restaurants, it should only serve to accelerate people's adoption of e-commerce. And while some might think the boost will only be temporary, it could also make Amazon's convenience and quick delivery more of a habit.
Twitch will benefit, too
Another Amazon product that could get a potential boost from the stay-at-home economy is Twitch, the online video game streaming service Amazon in purchased in 2014. While many might think the idea of watching others play video games a bit ridiculous, Twitch's audiences are huge, often meeting or exceeding mainstream sports broadcasts on ESPN or other cable networks.
Twitch currently sports the leading platform for video game enthusiasts by a wide margin, with some three quarters of the live-streaming audience in the third quarter of 2019. Amid coronavirus, more and more people cooped up in their houses will probably spur the desire for more online communities, which is the big draw among Twitch viewers.
Twitch is also expanding beyond just e-sports and into non-gaming-related streaming as well, with a new section called Just Chatting. Introduced in 2018, Just Chatting is a video-chat section wherein popular streamers can interact with fans about any topic they like, and it's growing at four times the rate of overall video game viewing. Amazon is also cross-selling more video content to Twitch enthusiasts, such as free views of Amazon Prime's series Jack Ryan.
Overall, staying home and a yearning for online community should play right into Twitch's hands amid the outbreak.
The cloud should get a boost as well
Finally, Amazon's main profit center is Amazon Web Services, another business that should benefit from the trends accelerated by the coronavirus. Already, and especially in Seattle, where Amazon headquarters is located, employees across a wide range of companies have been asked to work from home.
While it may not directly affect cloud revenue in the near term, a more distributed workforce is already a trend, and the need to work on a common yet widely distributed corporate infrastructure should only make cloud computing more essential to businesses.
AWS is by far the leader in the global cloud infrastructure market, with over 32% market share in 2019. Cloud infrastructure-as-a-service is expected to grow 32% in 2020 and an average 21.5% rate over the next five years.
More specifically, big data and artificial intelligence capabilities fueled by the cloud are already helping drug companies speed through drug discovery and clinical trials faster. At its Re:Invent conference last November, AWS announced a slew of new features that could help the life sciences industry get better and faster, along with machine learning workflows that can greatly speed up clinical trials. As companies race to come up with a vaccine or cure for coronavirus, one can bet that they will be using lots of machine learning across large data sets provided by AWS and other cloud providers.
It all comes together
All of Amazon's main businesses should benefit from the stay-at-home consumer and a more distributed workforce, two trends that were happening anyway but should be accelerated by coronavirus. The Federal Reserve has also recently cut interest rates by 50 basis points, and lower interest rates should only benefit the stocks of high-growth companies with little or no earnings even more.
Of course, if coronavirus leads to a really bad and prolonged recession in the U.S., Amazon would still be affected. But it's unclear really how much a recession would affect Amazon's business, and a prolonged slump doesn't appear to be the base case scenario right now. While Amazon's stock has been dragged down with the rest of the market, probably over lots of index selling, one could make the argument that the stock should be up, not down.
As such, it may be a good time for investors to give the e-commerce giant a long look today.