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Amazon Q3 Earnings: What Investors Should Know

By Trevor Jennewine and Toby Bordelon – Nov 11, 2021 at 11:48AM

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The retail giant fell short of Wall Street's expectations.

Amazon (AMZN -8.43%) is the largest e-commerce marketplace in North America, and the global leader in cloud computing. Even so, the stock has significantly underperformed the broader market over the past year, and macroeconomic challenges could slow the company's growth in the coming quarters. Should investors be concerned?

In this Backstage Pass video, which was recorded Oct. 29, 2021, Motley Fool contributor Toby Bordelon discusses Amazon's third-quarter earnings results, highlighting the impact of global supply chain disruptions.

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Toby Bordelon: Amazon gave us their third quarter report. Well you see here, it wasn't the best, it wasn't quite we were expecting. Revenue miss -- it was a 15% increase year-over-year -- but they did have a revenue miss there. Still over a $100 billion; $110 billion or $111 billion, that is still very impressive performance.

The earnings, though, that was substantial. That declined 49% year-over-year, and it was a miss. What analysts were expecting was a little more, I think over $8.00 a share, as what they were looking for. And they lowered their outlook. Not too much, but it does come down a bit. It's less than what analysts were expecting. We've got to show beat and raise, what we would like to see here, we have a miss and a lower and that's not great. What's going on here?

Well, it's what you would expect. This is similar to a bunch of these other companies that deal directly with supply chain. Amazon is having some issues. Costs are up, increasing costs. They're having difficulty getting their products from where they are to where they need to be. The tight labor market is having an issue for them as you might expect right. I think it was a couple of weeks ago there was announcement. We're going to try to hire a 100,000 people, seasonal workers. Today, they said they are looking to hire 275,000, a combination of permanent and seasonal workers. That's going to be tough. I think to find that number of people is going to be tough.

That's definitely an issue for them and it's hitting their operating income. The costs go up, the income is coming down, operating cash flow actually ticked down a little bit. They still have $54 billion, $55 billion. But the big one you see free cash flow came down 91%. That's a lot.

Now, what's going on there? They did a lot of investments, a lot of CapEx. They're investing in property, plant and equipment. They are spending a lot of money, so that's what's you are seeing there.

Other things, if you look at that cash flow statement, you see the inventories are a little up. That might have the supply chain impact, because it's may be sitting a little bit longer in one place. Receivables are up too -- remember they don't charge you when you buy on their site -- they don't charge you until it ships. So if there are delays in that supply chain, they can't ship things as fast. You're going to see that receivables expand. So, they're struggling on the e-commerce side.

Now, the good news is we do have some parts of this business that are doing quite well. Amazon Web Services (AWS) revenue up 38%, the ad sales business is up 50%. So good news there. Now you look at AWS, though you still see a little bit concern there. Microsoft is number two player in this market. Azure was up 48% for Microsoft. They reported last week, I think it was. Are they going to catch up? Amazon still up there number one, but you're starting to see higher growth from Microsoft. You wonder if they are eventually going to surpass them. I don't know. We have to see how that battle plays out.

Prime Day, too -- if you recall, there were issues in the pandemic and this year they did it earlier in Q2, so that's not a direct comparison -- some of what we're seeing into that revenue miss might be because Prime Day was a quarter earlier than it was this year. That could feed into it. But the story really here is supply chains, its costs. A little bit of, I don't want to say a huge concern, but a little bit of a cautionary flag for me, I would say.

I want to see how these things work out especially on the labor side. They have labor relations issues I'm sure you've seen that in the news. Unionization at some of their facilities, just not great relationships with their employees in some places and then that feed into their need to hire more people, so there may be some hesitation there. We'll see how that all plays out. Still a great business, still a lot of cash flow, still a lot of revenue, but this is not quite as good as we would've liked.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Trevor Jennewine owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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