Amazon (AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is a once in a generation inventor that has fundamentally changed how humans buy stuff and interact with the internet.
So the first thought is that Amazon’s stock would crash at the mere utterance of Bezos stepping down as the company’s fearless leader. But that isn’t what happened on Tuesday evening, when Bezos stunned the business world by announcing he would transition to the executive chair role in the third quarter.
In his place is long-time right hand man Andy Jassy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Jassy joined right after Amazon’s IPO in 1997 and has built the AWS business from the ground floor over nearly two decades.
Yet, Amazon shares were relatively unchanged on Wednesday in pre-market trading. Pros point to several reasons why.
First, Jassy is a direct disciple of Bezos’ hard-charging leadership style, according to Business Insider. He is no nonsense, and known for his incredible attention to detail. In effect, he was long seen as the heir apparent to Bezos and very much groomed for the top job.
The read: Jassy could keep Amazon winning in all facets of the business.
And that brings us to reason number two: Jassy has built a beast of a business in AWS that is a bulk of the company’s profits. The AWS business saw sales surge 30% year-over-year to $45 billion in 2020. At $13.5 billion last year, AWS’ operating profits represented 60% of the total operating profits of the company. AWS is seen as boasting a dominant 30% market share of the cloud computing market.
Fourth quarter operating margins for AWS rose to 28.1% from 26.1% a year ago.
The read: Jassy deserves to lead Amazon overall since he arguably has built Amazon’s most important (at least financially) business. His knowledge of AWS is critical as Microsoft turns up the heat on Amazon in the cloud.
“The cloud arms race is now hitting another gear with Jassy taking over,” Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives tells Yahoo Finance. “Andy is a cloud titan.”
And last but not least, Amazon blew it out of the water in the fourth quarter as people shopped online during the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses upgraded to Jassy’s cloud services. Net sales rose 44% year-over-year to $125.6 billion. Operating profits nearly doubled from a year ago to $6.9 billion.
Said Jefferies tech analyst Brent Thill, “4Q/1Q upside supports our view that Amazon is a primary beneficiary of a permanent increase in e-commerce adoption, as unprecedented investments in logistics enhance its competitive advantage over players more reliant on 3P carriers. Strong Q4 results improve our confidence that Amazon can continue printing upside to expectations in the back 3 quarters despite tougher comps.”
Point well taken.
“Keep inventing, and don't despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1,” Bezos wrote in a letter to employees.
As of right now, there is no despair being seen among Amazon investors. And that makes a lot of sense.
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