There's one big reason that Amazon (AMZN -3.52%) has been in the spotlight these days: The online retail giant recently announced a stock split. The split could offer Amazon a bit of a boost when it happens in June. That's because the price of each individual share will drop to about $150 -- and that makes it easier for a broader range of investors to jump in.
But the stock split isn't why I'm optimistic about Amazon; the split won't have any long-term impact on the company's performance or the stock's performance. Instead, I'm looking at how Amazon performed throughout the pandemic so far -- and what's ahead. Let's take a closer look.
First, it's important to note that the pandemic hasn't just been about big business for Amazon. The health crisis also brought challenges. Amazon faced the costs of almost doubling its fulfillment capabilities, making health and safety improvements in its warehouses, and dealing with staffing shortages. Late last year, inflation and supply chain issues also joined that list of headwinds.
Even in that context, Amazon has managed to win so far. In the early days of the pandemic, people around the world either opted to or were forced to stay home. And Amazon delivered just about everything -- from groceries and essentials to general merchandise. This was a big positive for Amazon. For example, in the second quarter of 2020, sales soared 40% and net income doubled.
As people returned to shopping in stores and their usual routines, Amazon hasn't lost its luster. Amazon kept customers loyal through its Prime subscription service. How? Through various one-day and same-day free delivery options, a vast array of entertainment options, and even online pharmacy services. The company finished 2020 with 200 million Prime members worldwide. And in the most recent quarter, the company said the service added "millions" of new members. Last year, Amazon's net sales rose 22% and operating income and net income both increased. E-commerce is on the rise globally -- so it's likely Amazon's revenue can keep growing.
Scoring a big win
Amazon also has scored big in the world of cloud computing through its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business. Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said last year that the pandemic made many companies realize something: They didn't want to manage their own technology infrastructure. And that led to more and more lasting business for AWS. What's important here is that AWS represents more than 70% of Amazon's operating income, making it a key profit driver. And that looks like it will continue for quite some time. AWS is the leader in the $180 billion cloud market; it holds 33% of the market, according to Synergy Research Group. Its closest rival, Microsoft, holds just 21%.
Amazon's recent share performance hasn't reflected either the company's performance or its prospects down the road; the stock rose less than 3% last year. But over the long term, Amazon has shown its ability to deliver. The shares have climbed more than 1,500% during the past 10 years.
All of this means I'm not counting on Amazon for immediate gains. But this retail and technology giant has what it takes to win -- and make investors winners -- over time.