Amazon earnings preview: Analysts bullish despite more delivery investment and antitrust scrutiny

Amazon continues work on new buildings at its headquarters in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Analysts are expecting another big quarter for Amazon’s balance sheet even as the company continues to invest heavily in its e-commerce infrastructure and faces antitrust scrutiny from regulators.

The Seattle tech giant will report its second quarter earnings Thursday after the market closes. Wall Street estimates peg Amazon’s earnings per share at $5.57, up from $5.07 last year, on revenue of $62.5 billion, up from $52.9 billion.

Amazon posted record profits in the first quarter of 2019, thanks in part to its Amazon Web Services cash machine, but it is still investing across various parts of the business. The company announced a one-day shipping initiative in April, saying it would spend upwards of $800 million this quarter alone on the initiative.

While that investment may have a short-term impact on margins, analysts are still bullish.

In a note to investors, RBC listed a 12-month price target of $2,300 — Amazon stock was trading at $1,987 Thursday — with an “outperform” rating. It estimates Amazon accounts for roughly 20 percent of U.S. online retail sales, “but the company’s strong mobile positioning and infrastructure advantages facilitating next-day and same-day delivery should allow Amazon to continue to take share,” according to the note.

Some see even more growth ahead. An analyst with Piper Jaffray told CNBC that Amazon stock could be “on the cusp of a major breakout” with a “clear path to an all-time high of $2,700.”

Amazon’s stock is up 33 percent this year, well ahead of the 20 percent spike for the S&P 500.

Amazon is also seeing growth with non-retail parts of the company, including its advertising arm, while AWS is on pace to exceed $30 billion in revenue this year.

The past three months marked another eventful quarter for Amazon. The company faced heavy antitrust scrutiny both in the U.S. and Europe, which launched a formal investigation into the company earlier this month. It answered the most pointed questions during an antitrust hearing before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

Some experts like Dan Ives, managing director of equity research firm Wedbush Securities, believe U.S. regulators have the best antitrust case against Amazon out of the four companies that testified at the hearing. This week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that Amazon “destroyed the retail industry across the United States so there’s no question they’ve limited competition.”

Amazon was not the only tech giant answering questions from regulators. The company responded publicly to criticism numerous times, a shift for the traditionally quiet organization.

Amazon this quarter also had a record Prime Day; expanded its Amazon Go footprint; announced a big bet on satellites; grew its logistics arm; continued vying for the key JEDI contract; readied for big growth in Bellevue, Wash.; and faced employee demands on climate change. It also continues to invest in streaming media but is facing struggles in Hollywood.