Apple Crushes Amazon as Stock to Own
Analysts are expecting Amazon's next fiscal year earnings to result in a P-E ratio of about 87, while Apple's forward P-E is priced about 11. Both companies are heavily followed with many analysts reporting various expectations. When I select earnings I try to select what I consider the most reasonable numbers rather than just simply pulling the mean number. We can then expect every dollar of income for Amazon to cost 8 times more than what it will cost for a dollar in income for Apple. If you cut Apple's income in half and double Amazon's income, Apple will still be half as expensive for every dollar in earnings in comparison to Amazon. Simply put, there is no comparison between the two using a P-E ratio as the measurement. All else being equal, one would have to be a fool to buy Amazon instead of Apple based on P-E ratios.
Just a little more light on P-E ratios and we will move to other measurements. Historically, it is my experience that companies trading over a P-E of 20 are not only expensive, but by expensive I mean your investment is likely to lose money or at a minimum not perform as well as the overall market over time.
Looking at the moving averages of both Apple and Amazon, we can see Apple shareholders are happy and Amazon shareholders are not as happy. Shares of Apple are trending nicely above the shorter 60-day moving average, which in turn is nicely above the key 200-day moving average. For trend followers this is exactly what you want to see. (Michael Covel's excellent Trend Following books describe in great detail how and why trend following builds long-term wealth).
To me, the chart for Amazon paints a picture much closer to reality than the P-E ratio does. In the last year, Amazon's stock is unremarkable and largely trading near the moving averages. This can be expected given the beta at .69 is so far under the overall market (a beta of 1 is equal to the volatility of the overall market, over 1 is more volatile and under 1 is less volatile).
Why did Amazon move up so much after earnings? The answer is simple: Expectations were so low with Amazon that when they beat estimates, there was bound to be a combination of late arrivals to the party and short covering. Often with earnings it's not a matter of how much a company makes, but how well they do compared to estimates and expectations.