For much of the last generation, there's been almost no better stock to own than Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
The stock has gained a phenomenal 160,000% since its 1997 IPO, turning $1,000 into roughly $1.6 million. Even with its historical volatility, to date, Amazon has outperformed the S&P 500 at almost any time horizon over its history, with the exception of its pullback over the last few weeks. Year to date, the stock is up 70%, trouncing the broad-market index, which has gained just 4% this year.
After that bull run, though, investors may be wondering if this is still a good time to buy Amazon or is it ready for a pullback? Let's take a closer look.
Amazon during the pandemic
Nearly all of Amazon's businesses are getting tailwinds from the COVID-19 crisis. As an e-commerce company, Amazon has seen a surge in orders during the pandemic, which lifted overall sales 40% in the second quarter and delivered blowout profit growth as well. Many of the company's other businesses, including cloud computing, video streaming, voice-activated technology, and other emerging technologies are also getting a boost from the pandemic, which has favored technology companies by boosting demand for online services and moving office work into the home.
Arguably, there's been no greater beneficiary of this shift than Amazon. While many of its competitors are facing immense pressure, the company has experienced a sustained spike in demand, especially in its e-commerce division, which helped drive a near-doubling in profits to $5.2 billion even as it spent about $4 billion in COVID-19-related costs.
By contrast, brick-and-mortar discretionary retailers have mostly been crushed by the pandemic; mall-based chains, department stores, and apparel retailers have posted massive losses during the first half of the year, and many have been forced into bankruptcy. The retail landscape is likely to look much different when the pandemic is over, as there will be fewer brick-and-mortar stores in the country, and Americans will be more accustomed to shopping online. Additionally, Amazon's logistics infrastructure is only getting stronger, making online shopping easier and more convenient.
What's next for Amazon
Amazon's momentum from the spring looks poised to continue into the second half of the year. For the third quarter, the company called for revenue growth of 24% to 33% and operating income of $2 billion to $5 billion, which includes at least $2 billion in COVID-19-related costs. But there's a good chance that the results will top that as the company's second-quarter guidance proved to be very conservative.
The fourth quarter should also be a record-setter given that Amazon's shopping holiday, Prime Day, is coming in October, meaning that the billions in incremental sales that normally come in the third quarter will move to the fourth quarter. This holiday season is expected to be a big one for e-commerce as Americans will be reluctant to crowd into stores with the pandemic still active.
Meanwhile, the company is laying the groundwork for new business like its recently opened Fresh supermarket, and expanding its cashier-less Amazon Go chain. While many of its competitors are dealing with the fallout from the crisis, Amazon is moving forward.
Is it a buy?
Throughout Amazon's history, investors have always been rewarded over the long term for buying the stock. Given the company's many tailwinds and the momentum it's currently seeing across the business, buying the stock now is likely to pay off over the long term.
While the stock could pull back on macroeconomic issues, especially if Congress doesn't pass another stimulus package, and would likely slide with a broader sell-off, Amazon stock has always looked expensive, so if you're waiting for a better price, it might never come. Buying it on any potential dip would be a smart move, but even at today's price, it looks like a long-term winner.