Amazon Gets a New Vote of Confidence

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Amazon(AMZN) has gotten its newest vote of confidence from analysts after the retail giant and maker of Kindle tablet devices missed third quarter earnings in October.

On Monday, Evercore Partners analyst Ken Sena added Amazon to the boutique investment bank's "Conviction Buy List" on expectations that profit margins are headed higher. In particular, Sena highlights the company's higher margin Amazon Web Service as being able to take online retail market share and grow in importance to overall earnings, in coming years.

While recent earnings show Amazon's profit margins remain at razor-thin levels and its profitability has evaporated, the analyst upgrade signals it doesn't take much for the company to change Wall Street expectations.

In fact, optimism on Amazon hinges on a tweak to assumed long-term growth rates of some of the company's businesses and not upcoming quarterly earnings - giving chief executive Jeff Bezos yet more time to prove skeptics wrong.

"Given Amazon Web Service's relatively lower contribution to Amazon results, even on meaningfully higher growth assumptions, our total revenue and margin assumptions increase modestly," writes Sena, in a Monday note to clients that raises Amazon's price target to $270 from $250.

In October, Amazon's earnings miss and third quarter net loss raised investor questions as to whether the Seattle-based company can maintain its premium-priced valuation and grow overall profit margins as it tries to lure consumers unto its Amazon Prime & Kindle businesses by way of subsidized subscriptions and discounted Tablet and e-reader devices.

After assessing the company's earnings, some on Wall Street like Sena are casting new votes of confidence on Amazon's strategy, and the growth projects undertaken by CEO Bezos. Meanwhile, Amazon's third quarter earnings have done little to move shares, even as valuation multiples for the company go higher .

Sena of Evercore now sees Amazon Web Service revenue growing at a 45% compound annual clip through 2018, rising from present full-year forecast revenue of $2.1 billion to $19.7 billion in six years' time. That's an upgrade from a previous forecasts of a 36% growth rate, and its enough to boost the company' overall growth expectations by 40 basis points to 26.5%.

The key, according to Sena, is that as AWS becomes a more important component of Amazon's overall earnings, it will drive create a dynamic of rising profit margins in excess of revue growth - a part of overall earnings that remains a big question mark for the company.

In late October, Amazon reported a net loss of $274 million, or 60 cents a share, for the third quarter with sales totaling $13.81 billion. In the same period a year earlier, Amazon earned $63 million, or 14 cents a share, on sales of $10.88 billion. The results reflect a loss of $169 million, or 37 cents a share, related to asset impairment at its LivingSocial unit.