If You Want a 30% Return This Year, Look to Amazon

Stocks to buy

If you found a stock with a strong growth history that is expected to gain 30% this year, you’d be interested, right? Then maybe you should check out Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock.

An image of an Amazon logo on a building

Source: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Amazon has been through the ringer as of late. It’s down 23% since July and 14% over the last month. After reaching $3,700 per share just six months ago, you can buy AMZN stock for just south of $2,900 now.

The biggest problems facing Amazon last year was that it was going up against huge comparable quarters from 2020. Amazon had a huge 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic shut down brick-and-mortar retailers. Shoppers turned to e-commerce in record numbers to spend those government stimulus payment checks.

Amazon was a huge disappointment. AMZN stock only returned 2% for all of 2021 while the S&P 500 gained 29.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18.7%, and the Nasdaq composite jumped 21.4% in 2021.

Now that founder Jeff Bezos is gone, having turned over the reins at Amazon to new CEO Andy Jassy, it’s a new day at Amazon, and perhaps investors have a right to be a little skeptical.

But there are plenty of analysts who have a strong belief that Amazon will have a strong year. They still have faith in AMZN stock. Maybe you should, too.

AMZN Stock at a Glance

In late October, Amazon reported third-quarter earnings that were a disappointment.

Revenue was $110.81 billion, versus analysts’ expectations of $111.6 billion. Earnings of $6.12 per share were much lower than analysts’ expectations of $8.92 per share.

On top of that, CFO Brian Olsavsky cautioned investors that the company will take a $4 billion charge in the fourth quarter from increased labor costs, productivity losses and inflation. The company planned to hire 150,000 seasonal workers just to get through the holiday season.

Amazon is expecting operating profit between zero to $3 billion in the fourth quarter. A year ago, Amazon posted a profit of $6.9 billion in Q4.

But there are some reasons for optimism. By several accounts, Amazon had a decent holiday season with its biggest-ever sales over the Thanksgiving weekend.

And it’s important to remember that Amazon just isn’t a retail company. The third quarter was the first time in Amazon’s history that its Amazon services division posted more revenue that its retail division.

The retail side made $54.9 billion in the third quarter. But revenue from Amazon Prime subscriptions, advertising and its cloud component Amazon Web Services made $55.9 billion.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Amazon Web Services’ $4.88 billion in revenue for the quarter, the company would have lost money in the period. AWS revenue rose 39% in the quarter.

The Analyst Sentiment

At this writing, Amazon stock is hovering around $2,900. That means it needs to gain about 38% to hit the $4,000 mark.

Is that a pipe dream? Not at all, according to analyst sentiment.

For instance, Morgan Stanley’s Brian Nowak just raised his firm’s price target from $4,000 to $4,200. He has an interesting take: He notes that Amazon is badly lagging behind the other top tech stocks like Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, GOOGL), Meta (NASDAQ:FB), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT).

Nowak said there’s a correlation between companies that improve their disclosure practices and the price that investors are willing to pay for stock. Amazon needs to give investors more insight about how it spends its money, he wrote in a note to clients.

“Better visibility into Amazon’s estimated ~$19 billion spent on engineers per year (excluding AWS) and emerging ‘other bets’ projects could help investors better understand the health of its core retail business.”

At JPMorgan, analyst Doug Anmuth said investors expect U.S. internet stocks to outperform the market this year. And Amazon is by far the “strong favorite as best performing FANG” stock for 2022, he says. Anmuth has a price target of $4,350 for AMZN stock.

The Bottom Line on AMZN Stock

Fifty analysts currently cover AMZN stock, and 49 of them rank it as a “buy” or a “strong buy.”

Despite coming off a rough 2021 – and a rough start to this year – Amazon can’t be ignored. It’s the unquestioned leader in e-commerce stocks. And with its Amazon Web Services, Amazon is a growing power in cloud services. It’s that division that will give Amazon its greatest profits in 2022.

If you want a 30% return in 2020, Amazon seems to be a great place to find it.

On the date of publication, Patrick Sanders did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Patrick Sanders is a freelance writer and editor in Maryland, and from 2015 to 2019 was head of the investment advice section at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter at @1patricksanders.

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