After years of astounding gains, one might be led to assume that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock can’t possibly disappoint its investors. Yet, every company is vulnerable to macroeconomic issues, including Amazon. The past 12 months were painful for overeager Amazon shareholders, and unfortunately, the next year might not be much better.
As the old saying goes, trees don’t grow straight to the heavens. Amazon’s relentless growth was bound to slow down at some point. Covid-19 didn’t hurt Amazon and even gave the already cash-flush e-commerce giant a boost in business.
Yet, in 2022, investors discovered Amazon’s Achilles’ heel: elevated U.S. dollar inflation. At long last, Amazon had its first really bad year since the Great Recession, topped off by a rough fourth quarter. So, let’s see just how bad the damage was, from the point of view of a hypothetical Amazon investor.
Here’s What Happened to a $1,000 Investment in AMZN Stock
AMZN stock declined from nearly $160 in early February of 2022, to $103 and change at the end of Feb. 3, 2023. That’s a loss of around 35%, so $1,000 invested in Amazon would have been reduced to just $650.
A whopping 8.43% of that decline occurred on Feb. 3, 2023, after Amazon reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 financial results. The previous day, CFO Brian Olsavsky disclosed that Amazon’s elimination of 18,000+ jobs would result in an “estimated severance cost of $640 million.”
Also on Feb. 3, in case there wasn’t enough bad news already, the Wall Street Journal broke the story that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is “preparing a potential antitrust lawsuit against Amazon.” Prospective investors might wonder whether Amazon will end up having to pay a hefty fine or even break up its business.
Amazon’s Cloud Division Disappointed Wall Street
Over time, Amazon evolved from an online bookseller to an e-commerce behemoth. More recently, Amazon sought to dominate other fields, such as grocery stores and cloud computing.
Regarding its grocery-stores division, known as Amazon Fresh, that endeavor isn’t going well. Per Reuters, Amazon “has closed some grocery shops and impaired certain assets,” and sustained a $720 million charge related to this in 2022’s fourth quarter.
More significant to Amazon’s business than Fresh, however, is the company’s cloud-computing unit. Amazon Web Services (AWS) could potentially be as important to Amazon as its e-commerce business in the coming years.
However, AWS doesn’t seem to be delivering the results that Wall Street is looking for. Reportedly, AWS generated fourth-quarter 2022 revenue of $21.38 billion and operating income of $5.21 billion. These figures fell short of the analyst consensus estimates of $21.85 billion in revenue and $5.73 billion in operating income.
Is It Time to Buy AMZN Stock Now?
So, let’s recap. A one-year $1,000 investment in AMZN stock would have deteriorated to around $650. Dip-buyers might be tempted to jump into the trade now. However, Amazon’s disappointing results in its cloud-computing and grocery-store businesses indicate it’s time to be cautious.
Amazon might stage a turnaround later this year. For the time being, though, it’s wise for investors to accept any losses they’ve sustained over the past year. Furthermore, there’s no need to take a position in Amazon until the company produces more encouraging results.
On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.