Amazon ( AMZN -0.18% ) has created great wealth for its shareholders. CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man on earth, worth nearly $190 billion according to Bloomberg's Billionaire's index.
For those of us who didn't get into Amazon's IPO (initial public offering), can it still be a millionaire-maker today?
Continued prospects in retail
Amazon continues to be a force in online retail. Americans turned to the trusted e-commerce master during the pandemic, and sales grew 40% in the second quarter ending June 30, and 37% in the third quarter ending Sept. 30. The company is expecting similar growth in the current fourth quarter.
Earnings tripled in the third quarter and free cash flow increased to almost $30 billion, allowing Amazon to fund its many new initiatives.
The holidays are usually retail's most valuable time period, and Amazon said that this has been its biggest holiday season yet. Sales from independent sellers increased 60% during the Black Friday weekend, and it's looking to fill 100,000 new full-time roles as well as 100,000 seasonal roles. That means it's still expecting a windfall for the rest of the holiday season and beyond.
Preliminary data about the Black Friday shopping season points to market share for Amazon. Adobe ( ADBE 2.20% ) analytics found that customers spent close to $11 billion online on Cyber Monday, a 15% year-over-year increase. Total holiday spending through Cyber Monday was over $100 billion, a 27% increase year over year. Mobile accounted for 37% of total sales. Cyber Monday was "[t]he biggest online shopping day in U.S. history," said Taylor Schreiner, Director, Adobe Digital Insights. "Throughout the remainder of the holiday season, we expect to see record sales continue and curbside pickup to gain even more momentum as shoppers avoid crowds and potential shipping delays."
One-day shipping was the most popular last-minute option, growing 45%, but curbside pickup was a close second, increasing 37% over the prior year. That's a potential thorn in Amazon's side, as it has yet to penetrate brick-and-mortar in a significant way. The company is trying to gain a foothold in storefronts, and its Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go stores have taken off. But it's way behind rival Walmart ( WMT -1.22% ), which is still the largest U.S. retailer by far, despite Amazon's online dominance.
Building out to new businesses
Amazon built itself up from an online bookseller to an online marketplace with almost anything a customer could wish to buy. But it's branched out into other growth drivers, such as Amazon Web Services, which offers a number of cloud computing solutions. It also sells its own branded lifestyle devices like Alexa remote control, Echo Dot, and Fire TV Stick.
It's considering selling its cashierless technology, which it employs in its supermarkets, to other retailers for another revenue feeder.
Amazon is a leader in innovation, and combined with its retail power, it should continue to see high growth.
A great time to buy
Amazon stock debuted in 1997 at $18 per share, and if you'd invested $1,000 at that price, you'd be a millionaire by now. But growth is far from over.
Believe it or not, shares of Amazon are fairly cheap right now relative to earnings and potential. While shares are trading at $3,162 as of this writing, it is among the cheapest in the last decade. On an EV-to-EBITDA basis, Amazon is trading at 33.9, below its average historical and median values over the last 10 years, as you can see here.
Amazon is a great stock to hold and is likely to build wealth for shareholders. However, the growth rate may become slower for a behemoth like Amazon which means investors may need to wait longer to turn it into a million dollars.