Amazon.com: When Short-Term Profits Don't Matter
For gaggles of investors, such a high P/E is reason enough to sell or short the stock.
In fact, loads of investors appear to invest almost solely on the basis of P/E ratios and other quantitative metrics that measure "valuation."
Amazon.com gets the same rap as Lululemeon and Chipotle Mexican Grill.
I don't usually subscribe to "you're either with us or against us" dichotomies. The world is too complex for that. But when looking Amazon, it's useful to place people into two camps, although some people fit into both camps.
- Camp One : People who make decisions based on the here and now, and on the hard data that sit in front of them. It's black and white: AMZN has a P/E of 140, so the stock is overvalued and it must one day crash to a more reasonable valuation. Nothing you say can change these people's minds.
- Camp Two : People who can take into account the present yet discount it to consider a longer-term, bigger-picture perspective. Sure, AMZN has a P/E of 140 and a somewhat deteriorating bottom line, but why? Is Jeff Bezos so stupid that he's running this thing into ground? Or is there something bigger and more meaningful at play here?
To truly appreciate Amazon.com and be able to rap your head around its "valuation," you need to either be a member of Camp Two or at least be willing to make the attempt to think like Camp Two thinkers.
For some folks, that's simply not possible. And, again, that's not a knock. It's no different than my poor visual-spatial skills preventing me from being able to fit all of the luggage into the trunk. I can write out a plan of how to do it in chicken scratch and get it done. My wife, on the other hand, has no use for my scribbling and can picture how the trunk will look before she starts loading it.
Camp Two thinkers -- I think I can safely include Jeff Bezos in that group -- have little time for concern over short-term pressure on the bottom line. They live to see the future and be the future. And that's how they run their businesses.