Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) was briefly valued at $1 trillion last week before easing back. Nevertheless, it looks like it's on target to reside firmly above that once-unfathomable threshold before long. But does the e-commerce leader have what it takes to make you a millionaire if you invest in it, especially at this late date?
Although the trillion-dollar valuation is a glaring spectacle, investors would be better off ignoring the glitz of that achievement and focusing instead on what got Amazon to such lofty heights to begin with.
Doing what it does best
The e-commerce leader has been on fire lately. Revenue surged 39% in the second quarter to $53 billion: an amazing feat when you consider its size. For comparison, tech giant Apple, which reached a trillion-dollar valuation last month, saw sales rise 17% to $53 billion in its most recent quarter, while retail giant Walmart was lauded for a 3.8% increase to $128 billion.
Amazon's revenue growth has come with a heaping plate of profits, too. Last quarter, operating income raced past management's guidance range of $1.1 billion to $1.9 billion, hitting $3 billion -- a near-fivefold increase from the $638 million it posted in the prior-year period.
Of course, Amazon is best known as an online retail juggernaut, but it is increasingly becoming a brick-and-mortar retailer, too. Its recent results have been boosted by its acquisition of Whole Foods last year. As a result, the North America segment's revenue jumped 44% last quarter, while its operating income soared 321% to $1.8 billion.
The company also just opened its third Amazon Go cashless supermarket a week after opening the second such store, accelerating its efforts to turn retail on its head.
The Midas touch
Furthermore, Amazon's cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), continues to fuel the fire. AWS' revenue rose 49% year over year to $6.1 billion last quarter and is up by a similar percentage across the first half of 2018 to over $11.7 billion. Operating income for the AWS segment is growing at an even faster clip, and accounted for 62% of Amazon's total operating income in the first half of 2018.
As impressive as that is, my Motley Fool colleague Adam Levy says it is possible that Amazon's advertising business could soon surpass AWS as the company's biggest profit center.
And that's why Amazon.com is doing so well. Each portion of its business seems to be functioning better than the last. Even Amazon's international segment, which is still losing money, saw those losses narrow to $494 million last quarter from $724 million a year earlier as segment revenue increased from $11.5 billion to $14.6 billion. And the segment is on track to eventually turn profitable.
These gains all flow through to the bottom line. Net earnings in the second quarter came in at $2.5 billion, a 13-fold increase over last year, allowing per-share earnings to surge to $5.07 from $0.40 in the prior year's quarter.
Become an Amazon millionaire
So, can an investor become a millionaire by buying Amazon.com stock now? Quite possibly. Although large corporations are often described as big ships that can't move quickly, Amazon stock has doubled in value over the past year. That's quite a feat for what was already a $500 billion company.
No one is saying Amazon.com will be worth $2 trillion by this time next year -- and you really shouldn't be trying to become a millionaire on a single stock purchase with a one-year time horizon. But the long-term outlook for the e-commerce/cloud computing/advertising behemoth suggests that with the appropriate mindset and a sufficiently long holding period, Amazon.com could be a millionaire maker stock.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.