Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is rising after yet another strong quarter. The overall news was good for the company, which managed to exceed expectations on several fronts. That sent shares of AMZN stock more than 10% higher.
At the same time, though, the report was far from perfect. In fact, it raises some questions for the future, especially in regard to the company’s stake in Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN). But let’s start with the good news. After all, there was a lot to like.
Here’s what you should know about AMZN stock moving forward.
AMZN Stock and Continued Strength
It’s difficult to find much fault in Amazon’s earnings at the high level. In general, the fourth quarter was strong, capping what was also a solid 2021. In Q4, sales reached $137.4 billion, up 9% on a year-over-year (YOY) basis. Net income also reached $14.3 billion in the quarter. That, however, included a pretax gain of $11.8 billion on the company’s holding of Rivian Automotive stock.
Because of the pretax gain, Amazon was able to report Q4 earnings per share (EPS) of $27.75. That figure significantly outpaced the $3.77 EPS that Wall Street was seeking. What’s more, the good news is that, even when accounting for taxes and excluding the effects of the Rivian gain, Amazon still reached a far better EPS than the expected $3.77.
That said, though, Amazon’s stake in Rivian will also play a role moving forward. Recently, Barron’s made a very pertinent point:
“Rivian shares were about $104 at the end of 2021. That’s the measurement date for calculating fourth-quarter gains. Now they are about $62 apiece. That means Amazon is sitting on a pretax loss of about $6.4 billion, or perhaps $10 in per-share earnings, for the first quarter.”
If RIVN prices go up, Amazon will have one less headache to worry about. If they don’t, though, investors in AMZN stock are going to become increasingly uneasy. Although the stake helped Amazon in terms of net income in Q4, that same stake could haunt the company in Q1 2022.
Still, that ominous warning aside, the company did have a very strong year.
A Strong 2021 and Continued Strength
For AMZN stock, one of the more positive pieces of information from the recent earnings relates to increasing efficiency. Specifically, the firm posted $469.8 billion in net sales for the year. That was a 22% increase over 2020 levels. At the same time, net income increased roughly 57% for the same period, reaching $33.4 billion in 2021.
That’s a bit of a broad measure, but a positive nonetheless.
The firm’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud division continued to perform well, too. AWS announced multiple new partnerships across industries and maintained its rapid growth trajectory. Its revenues grew by 37% during 2021 and nearly 40% in Q4. In the same period, net income increased by 37% and nearly 49%, respectively. That suggests that momentum is indeed in favor of the AWS division heading into 2022.
Yet, everything isn’t perfect. There was also news that might upset customers given the current economic climate.
Consumers are becoming increasingly frustrated with rising inflation resulting in increased prices across a spectrum of goods and services. But they’ll have to contend with one more increased price on Feb. 18 and Mar. 25. The news? The company is raising the price of Amazon Prime for new customers on Feb. 18 and on Mar. 25 for current customers.
This will mark the first time Amazon has increased its price since 2018. Customers will now pay $139 per year, up from $119.
What to Do with Amazon
Wall Street largely lauded Amazon’s Feb. 3 earnings report. At the same time, though, it’s fair to say that there were some issues present. Tech stocks suffered a rout the day before and then AMZN stock jumped on the positive earnings news.
All told, I think there’s too many ifs right now, which is why I’d stay away. Investors are going to be concerned about Rivian moving forward. That will present issues no matter how it turns out.
On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not hold (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.
Alex Sirois is a freelance contributor to InvestorPlace whose personal stock investing style is focused on long-term, buy-and-hold, wealth-building stock picks. Having worked in several industries from e-commerce to translation to education and utilizing his MBA from George Washington University, he brings a diverse set of skills through which he filters his writing.