I can't recall when Ammy ever issued an earnings warning, even when it was warranted. I poured through their historical press releases and discovered some interesting facts.
- Back on Jan. 30, 2001, when AMZN announced headcount reductions of 15% and restructuring charges in excess of $150 million, the PR headline they released read, "Amazon.com Expects Pro Forma Operating Profitability in Fourth Quarter 2001." Now that's what I call creative "spinning."
- The company never hesitates to announce preliminary results if it's positive, but when things aren't going well, here's what they tend to say: "The company intends to continue its practice of not updating forward-looking statements other than in publicly available statements." It's worth noting that when CFO Tom Szkutak presented at the Merrill Lynch conference last Weds., mum was the word.
- The company currently references 31 million accounts, yet, back in April, 2001, when Ammy reported their Q1 earnings, they touted 32 million accounts. But wait, three months later, on July 23, 2001, David Risher, Sr. VP of marketing and merchandising, was quoted as saying, "We thank our over 21 million customers who have purchased in the last year..." Okay, what really matters is the number of active accounts, so why don't they tell us how many active accounts they actually have today?
- Anyone else notice that net profits for Q4, 2002 dropped to $3 million from $5 million in Q4, 2001? That's a sequential decline of 40%. Don't even get me started on stock dilution and expensing stock options.
The following SELL rating and report from analyst Yogendra Singh back in January offers a dose of reality regarding why Ammy may not meet their 2003 numbers: