Last week, Amazon.com Inc.'s stock price crossed $1,000 (U.S.) for the first time in history. This is a stock that has been in my Strategy Lab growth portfolio since its inception in September, 2012, and I also own the stock personally.
I'm thrilled the stock has done so well. But the $1,000 threshold has no special meaning whatsoever. To a guy who preaches about being a long-term shareholder in high-quality companies, this is nothing more than a highway mile marker. You pass it, don't even notice it, and keep driving.
While the current share price isn't of much interest to me, the Amazon story is absolutely impressive. I intend to remain a shareholder for many years, and I think it's worth discussing what makes the business so compelling.
Any student of investing is probably aware of the law of large numbers. When a business becomes quite large, growth is harder to achieve. That's why mature manufacturing companies such as General Motors Co. or Coca-Cola Co. are not considered growth companies.
Amazon is a gigantic company by any reasonable metric. The business is in its 23rd year of operation and reported $136-billion in revenue last year. How can a company of this size post 23-per-cent year-over-year sales growth in the most recent quarter?
I think the answer lies in Amazon's use of technology to go after increasingly enormous opportunities around the world. Here are three examples that keep me fascinated in the stock:
The delivery business
Amazon is spending big money on research and development of smaller, autonomous drones to deliver tiny packages within minutes of an online customer's order. I think it's possible that Amazon could be designing an entirely new delivery business involving a mix of autonomous trucks and drones. Amazon could become, by far, the lowest-cost delivery platform for physical goods. Amazon would own the e-commerce and delivery ends of the business. This could make life difficult for UPS, FedEx Corp. and other traditional delivery companies.
Company founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos recently said, "It's still Day 1 for e-commerce in India." The opportunity for Amazon to expand globally is still quite large. Global expansion is probably not something Amazon can rely on beyond the next decade, but it's very meaningful for the next few years. Amazon could become just as dominant in India as it is in the United States.
Taking over the living room
Amazon keeps making it easier and more rewarding to be their customer. Amazon Prime members pay about $10 a month for fast, free shipping on Amazon orders. But there are all kinds of bonuses thrown into Amazon Prime. It already includes free TV shows, movies and music. And now Amazon has added NFL games on Thursday nights. The benefits to being a Prime subscriber keep growing.
On top of this, Amazon keeps making it easier to buy from them. The company's voice assistant, Alexa, is built into Amazon physical products, such as the new Echo Dot speaker. With this product you can already do some pretty cool things. For example, you could ask Alexa to reorder something you often buy on Amazon, or start an Amazon Music playlist. But the platform is open to developers, so it's also possible to order a pizza or an Uber ride. I won't pretend to be as creative as Amazon's engineers, but I like where this is going. Amazon is doing all the right things to become a very sticky brand to hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
Being an investor in Amazon feels a lot like being on a fun road trip. I'm excited about what's to come. Don't expect me to stop at the side of the road to marvel at mile-marker 1000. I'd rather keep driving.
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