For more than two decades, Jeff Bezos has famously sacrificed profit for growth, persuading Wall Street that Amazon was best served pouring money into the logistical nuts and bolts that have turned his company into the Walmart of the web. More recently, investors have found solace in the company's profitable cloud services business, which has helped offset losses in e-commerce. Still, for the past five years Amazon's average profit margins have languished at about 1 percent.
Now along comes a business that could generate consistent and healthy returns: It's called advertising. Over the past several years, Bezos & Co. have quietly put together the pieces for a marketing platform that lets Amazon make money from the sheer size of its audience.
Having bet on Amazon cloud services and pushed the shares past $1,300, investors are now salivating about the ad business, which doesn't require big investments in new data centers or shipping hubs and generates fat margins. On Monday, BMO Capital Markets upped its Amazon price target to $1,600 a share, based largely on the growth of the ad business. Some analysts are predicting Amazon will reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value.