What to expect from Amazon earnings

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent

Amazon (AMZN) is set to announce its first-quarter 2018 earnings on Thursday afternoon — a period in which the company saw its stock climb over 22%.

Given Amazon’s significant market gains, investors will be paying close attention to the company’s earnings, which Wall Street generally estimates at $1.26 per share on revenues of $49.8 billion. In the same quarter last year, earnings were $1.48 per share on $35.7 billion in revenue.

In particular, look for Amazon to offer a number of updates, including how much the company invested in its expansion efforts during the quarter, such as fulfillment center openings and changes to Whole Foods, which Amazon acquired last August for $13.7 billion — the largest acquisition in the company’s history.

‘Not a level playing field’

During Amazon’s earnings call on Thursday afternoon, analysts are also likely to ask Amazon about several hot-button topics, including President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the company. In late March and early April, President Trump criticized Amazon via Twitter and said Amazon’s agreements with the U.S. Postal Service are “not a level playing field” and that Amazon is putting “many thousands of retailers out of business.” Amazon stock temporarily took a hit in the immediate wake of President Trump’s unfavorable tweets but has since recovered.

Questions may also pop up around whether Trump’s current anti-Amazon stance could affect Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) odds of landing an exclusive 10-year multibillion-dollar contract it’s competing for — alongside Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT) — that would modernize the U.S. Department of Defense’s information technology system.

Amazon is set to announce first-quarter 2018 earnings on Thursday afternoon.

In an interview with Yahoo Finance this month, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels declined to offer an update on the process, other than to suggest that the company remained unfazed by Trump’s attacks.

“We’ve had a long and great relationship with the White House and with the DoD [Department of Defense], and as such, I think this is really business as usual for us,” Vogels told Yahoo Finance during the interview in early April.

Regardless, Amazon’s chances of scoring the government contract are pretty good, given the company already hosts classified systems with the CIA, as well as other top defense contractors like Lockheed Martin.

The search for HQ2

Analysts will almost certainly question Amazon executives during its earnings call on Thursday about its ongoing search for a second U.S. headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Since Amazon announced last year it planned on opening a new $5 billion headquarters outside of Seattle, the company has narrowed its search down from 238 U.S. cities and towns to 20 finalists, with news outlets speculating Washington D.C. and Boston could have the edge, based on those markets’ local talent pool, as well as Amazon’s significant presence in those areas.

JP Mangalindan is the Chief Tech Correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Email story tips and musings to jpm@oath.com. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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