updated 08:37 pm EST, Sun January 27, 2013
Analysts predict solid holiday earnings boost for Amazon
A solid performance this past holiday season may have left online retail giant Amazon with as much as $9 billion in cash and investments. This according to industry analysts and investors, who are forecasting larger than ever revenues for the retailer's December quarter. The financial success, though, could spell trouble for Amazon, as the growing cash pile could lead to renewed scrutiny over the company's tax contributions around the world.
According to The Guardian, Wall Street estimates put Amazon's revenues for the past quarter at around $22 billion. That would be a 59.3 percent jump from the $13.81 billion the company posted in Q3 2012 and a 26 percent jump from Q4 2011. Analysts expect that the successful quarter will translate into significant growth in Amazon's cash reserves and savings, with estimates ranging between $7 and $9 billion.
Morgan Stanley estimates $9 billion in savings, with $6.8 billion in cash and the rest in short-term investments. Broker Sanford C. Bernstein foresees $8.5 billion. Analysts at US broker Morningstar put Amazon's reserves between $7 and $8 billion.
Leading up to the holiday season, Amazon brought on 50,000 seasonal employees, slightly more than it brought on in 2011, in anticipation of increased sales. In late December, the retailer released holiday period sales information, showing that it had shipped more than 15.6 million units across all of its product categories.
The savings and cash holdings could lead to issues for the retailer, though, as governments around the world are increasingly scrutinizing major US companies for using offshore tax havens to reduce their tax payments. Amazon, Apple, and others have drawn criticism from politicians both abroad and in the United States for supposedly ducking their tax liabilities by leaving money off shore.
The Guardian notes that the United Kingdom accounts for about 10 percent of Amazon's revenues, meaning it may have contributed about $900 million to Amazon's current cash pile. From 2009 to 2011, Amazon earned more than £7 billion from customers in the UK but paid only £2.3 million since its sales are routed through its European head office in Luxembourg.