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Only one US stock has done better than Amazon in the Jeff Bezos era

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David Yanofsky
·2 min read
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Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC in 2018
Jeff Bezos, president and CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, speaks at the Economic Club of Washington DC in 2018

With Jeff Bezos stepping down as CEO of Amazon.com, let’s reflect on the company’s performance under his management. While he’s only a stock tick or two away from being the richest person in the world, during his tenure Amazon’s stock market results come in a distant second to Monster Beverage, the energy drink maker.

Amazon’s stock performance since IPO

A $1,000 investment in Amazon’s stock at its IPO on May 15, 1997, would be worth $2.2 million today. A $1,000 investment in Hansen’s Natural Corp—what Monster was called in 1997—would be worth $3.9 million. A distant third is Apple, where those $1,000 in shares would be worth $1.1 million today. These calculations include stock splits and the reinvestment of dividends, though Monster and Amazon didn’t issue any payments to investors during the time period.

Amazon’s changing business model

Amazon’s business has expanded significantly since its market debut. At the time, it reported $15.7 million in annual sales and Dow Jones Newswires described the company as “an upstart that made a flashy business out of selling books over the Internet.” In 2020, the company made $386 billion in sales while operating its own multi-national parcel-delivery fleet, offering services to control satellites, and running a streaming entertainment platform.

Monster Beverage’s outsized profits

Hansen’s $1.3 million of profit on $43 million sales in 1997 came primarily from carbonated fruit-juice drinks made without additives like caffeine or artificial coloring. The intervening years have led it to sell off non-energy drink divisions to Coca-Cola, change its name to Monster, and grow profit to a cumulative $1.2 billion on $4.4 billion in sales in its four most recently reported quarters.

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