This article is part of the series Top Tech Stocks 2015. Click here to read other installments of this series.
As part of the rush for investing ideas every new year, I've been detailing my top 5 tech stocks for 2015 and beyond. And we've finally arrived at my top pick for the year ahead.
It's no great insight to sing the praises of e-commerce giant extraordinaire Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). However, as I'll elaborate below, Amazon's combination of visionary business sense and massive long-term growth potential make it hugely compelling in my eyes.
Since there's simply no way to avoid it, I'll admit it: Amazon's economics suck on paper at the moment. Profits are effectively nil and investment spending seems unending. I've heard and understand the Amazon bears' point of view. However, despite its present "flaws," I'm still an Amazon believer.
Although it's by no means a new development, I've increasingly come to believe the Internet's landscape-redefining impact on the retail industry is actually underappreciated. In our increasingly constantly connected and increasingly mobile world, the Internet is continually breaking down the barriers between the makers and consumers of goods.
Because of things like greater cost efficiency, real-time analytics, ease of consumer access, this shift will only continue to play out in the decades to come. And as the world's most determined and dominant e-commerce player, Amazon sits poised to reap the benefits of creating this more efficient global supply chain.
Building a better model
Thankfully for its investors, Amazon acutely understands that in this brave new retail world, one in which buying options become increasingly democratized, that consumers will generally favor the option that costs them the least in both money and time. And fully realizing this, Amazon has committed itself in a genuine way to creating the most affordable and convenient e-commerce platform under the sun.
Amazon's pricing algorithms constantly scan other websites to give it the lowest prices on many items. Recently, other major retail players like Wal-Mart and Target have mimicked this technology, so it isn't fair to say that Amazon always wins on price alone. However, I do think its safe to argue that Amazon has the ability to consistently undercut many of its less efficient brick-and-mortar competitors.
Beyond cost, Amazon realizes the importance of winning on the service side of the retail experience as well. It's invested heavily in expanding its domestic and international distribution networks over the past several years, which increasingly give it the ability to deliver order faster and more cost effectively to its customers than much of its competition. Keep in mind, Amazon's Prime delivery service generated $1 billion in its own subscription revenue during the holiday season, and it truly underscores the significant degree to which Amazon's nonpricing advantages help it bring in and keep customers. And thanks to now-futuristic experiments like same day and even drone delivery, Amazon appears likely to continue to press these advantages in the years ahead.
Hopefully, my core e-commerce argument resonates here. But it's also a testament to just how exceptional a company Amazon is that it also has established several impressive noncore business segments that should further bolster its growth in the digital age. Its leadership position in cloud computing has helped diversify into what most expect will grow into another +$100 billion market by the end of the decade. And thanks to its reams of valuable consumer data, Amazon advertising potential is also immense.
This is only just the beginning
Because its been around for over 20 years now, we tend to think of Amazon as an established player, which it is to an extent. However, in terms of its overall market potential, it remains very much a company in its infancy. I use this chart a lot in my discussions of Amazon, and for good reason.
Even with Amazon having eclipsed $100 billion in sales and a presence around the world, all e-commerce sales in Amazon's most important market -- the U.S. -- sit at roughly 7% of total retail sales. I understand that total retail sales encompasses all manner of goods large and small, but as far as trends go, e-commerce is truly just getting started.
You say you want a revolution
This is, of course, has been far from a scientific argument. I understand and admit that it's substantially more qualitative than quantitative.
However, if you truly dwell on Amazon's long and amazing corporate arc, you see a company whose foresight and ability to realize its vision stands leaps and bounds above its competition. Amazon is one of those rare breeds of companies, like Apple under Steve Jobs or Wal-Mart under Sam Walton.
And under the stewardship of Jeff Bezos, Amazon's amazing winning streak is likely to continue for years to come. Amazon is certainly my top tech stock pick as we head further into 2015, and hopefully I've piqued your interest in possibly adding it to your portfolio as well.