It's been an agonizing year for Amazon's (AMZN 0.83%) shareholders. After surging during the early stages of the pandemic, when store closures and other COVID-related restrictions drove people to shop online, the e-commerce giant's stock price has backtracked in 2022. Following several quarters of slowing growth, Amazon's shares are down a brutal 49% year-to-date.
Yet Amazon is still one of the most competitively dominant businesses in the world today. And its long-term growth prospects are far brighter than its recent stock performance would otherwise indicate.
The stock market tends to correct its mistakes, so these discrepancies are unlikely to persist. Here are three reasons why Amazon's shares are poised to rebound in the year ahead.
1. AWS's growth should reaccelerate
When people think of Amazon, they usually think about its sprawling e-commerce operations. But Amazon.com and its sister sites are no longer the main sources of profit for the company. That distinction belongs to Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is the leading provider of cloud infrastructure services. It commands a 34% share of this $217 billion market. That's more than its next two competitors combined.
Cloud computing's cost, performance, and security benefits -- combined with rising usage of advanced technology like artificial intelligence -- are expected to fuel the industry's growth in the coming decade. The global cloud market will exceed $1.5 trillion by 2030, up from $484 billion in 2022, according to Grand View Research. Amazon is likely to benefit from this growth more than any other company.
Investors, however, have focused more on Amazon's warnings that AWS's near-term growth could slow as businesses delay their technology investments due to fears of a potential recession. But while a recession could dampen Amazon's results, any reacceleration in AWS's growth rates could ignite a powerful rally in its stock price. And based on the rising long-term demand for cloud services, it's likely only a matter of time before this occurs.
2. Amazon is gaining digital ad share
Digital advertising is another powerful growth driver for Amazon -- one that's likely being underestimated by investors. Amazon's steadily expanding army of third-party merchants relies on its ad platform to market their wares to the e-commerce titan's massive user base.
Amazon's marketing solutions are helping these online businesses generate strong returns on their ad spending as they give merchants the ability to target consumers at the moment they're most likely to buy. And, unlike Google and Facebook's offerings, Amazon's data-collection abilities have not been weakened much by Apple's privacy-related changes. These factors are helping Amazon rapidly gain share in a digital ad market that's projected to top $876 billion by 2026, up from $602 billion in 2022, according to Statista.
Yet, as with AWS, investors appear to be concerned about a potential cooling of the ad market to cool during a recession in 2023. Although that's possible, spending on digital ads could also reaccelerate once the economy stabilizes and begins to recover. That would, no doubt, excite investors and help boost Amazon's share price.
3. E-commerce is on a path back to profitability
Fears of peak e-commerce sales are likely the most overblown. It's true that online sales have slowed as more people have returned to brick-and-mortar stores following the easing of COVID-related safety measures. But the long-term trend of rising e-commerce sales remains intact.
Amazon's awesome scale and massive third-party merchant network allow it to offer lower prices on a wider selection of goods than nearly all its competitors. And after spending tens of billions of dollars to bolster its fulfillment network during the pandemic, Amazon can now provide one-day and even same-day delivery services for countless items.
These benefits should help Amazon capture a larger share of a global e-commerce market that's set to grow to nearly $7.4 trillion by 2025, up from $5.5 trillion in 2022, according to eMarketer.
Better still, Amazon's cost structure could drastically improve in 2023. Recent trends suggest that inflation is moderating. And with oil prices and freight rates already down sharply from their highs, Amazon could enjoy reduced shipping costs, which should help to boost its profits.
If Amazon's enormous e-commerce business can return to sustained profitability -- and these growth and cost trends suggest it can -- investors would likely be willing to pay a higher price for its shares.