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Is Amazon a Buy?

By Zhiyuan Sun - Updated Mar 19, 2021 at 9:29PM

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The nation's No. 1 e-commerce giant is now seeking to disrupt the healthcare sector.

Now worth more than $3,000 a share, Amazon (AMZN 0.25%) has been one of the top-performing growth stocks of the past year, with a close to 70% return. From its signature sales platform to Kindle Publishing to Amazon Fresh grocery delivery to Amazon Music to Prime Video to Alexa, it has developed several magnificent innovations in the past two decades.

But its momentum is far from over; Amazon will soon become part of the $4 trillion U.S. healthcare industry. Should you buy the stock as a bet on its new venture? 

Pharmacists checking shipments in a warehouse.

Image source: Getty Images.

What's the big deal?

Through Amazon Pharmacy, the company is now offering its Prime members in 45 states free two-day shipping and delivery for all their prescription drug needs. Over 50,000 pharmacies across the nation are on board with Amazon's new venture. If patients do not have insurance, they can enjoy up to 80% savings on generic drugs and 40% savings on branded drugs if they purchase their medication through Amazon.

What's more, the e-commerce giant is also launching Amazon Care to provide telehealth services to its employees nationwide. These include consultations for treating illness/injury, COVID-19 testing, flu shots, nutrition and diet consultations, and pregnancy planning. The company did an 18-month trial of the service in its Washington office and saw spectacular success. It is planning to expand Amazon Care to other employers as well, and perhaps even to its members.

The great thing about Amazon's new initiative is that there exists a significant overlap between Amazon Care and Amazon Pharmacy. If the former becomes available to Prime members, patients could seek a consultation via Amazon Care and have their prescriptions filled directly through Amazon Pharmacy, creating ample revenue synergies. 

The telehealth and prescription drug industry amounts to $774 billion in the U.S. alone. Amazon's potential market outreach is far more extensive than this, as it could easily scale both segments on an international level. 

It has also been doing well outside of healthcare. Last year, the company's revenue increased by 38% year over year to $386.1 billion. Simultaneously, Amazon's free cash flow increased to $31 billion from $25.8 billion in the prior year. Over the holiday season, the company delivered more than 1 billion toys, home decorations, clothing items, electronics, beauty products, and personal care items worldwide. The sky is truly the limit in terms of what Amazon has to offer. 

Is the stock a buy?

Usually, investors are skeptical of blue-chip stocks that reach $100 billion annually. After this feat, it can be extremely difficult for companies to expand outside of their principal business scope. That's simply not the case for Amazon, which has proven that its e-commerce model is scalable to just about any kind of service, putting the company on a path to becoming a multinational conglomerate. 

At a time when the average e-commerce stock trades for 4.52 times revenue, Amazon's 3.23 times sales valuation is an absolute bargain. I'd highly recommend those who are enthusiastic about retail or healthcare stocks to add the company to their watch list. 

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