Tech Transformers

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a pretty good idea of quarterly earnings 3 years in advance

Key Points
  • Jeff Bezos said when Amazon reports quarterly results, they were "fully baked about 3 years ago".
  • The Amazon CEO spoke of why it's important to be long-term oriented.

When Amazon reports quarterly results, investors watch closely and shares move accordingly, but for Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, the earnings are the result of plans set in motion three years prior.

In a talk at the Internet Association's annual gala last week, Bezos was talking about what makes his e-commerce and cloud company tick. As well as being customer focused, the CEO also said that the company is "long-term oriented".

"I ask everybody to not think in two-to-three-year time frames, but to think in five-to-seven-year time frames," Bezos told an audience in Washington, D.C.

"When somebody … congratulates Amazon on a good quarter … I say thank you. But what I'm thinking to myself is … those quarterly results were actually pretty much fully baked about 3 years ago. Today I'm working on a quarter that is going to happen in 2020. Not next quarter. Next quarter for all practical purposes is done already and it has probably been done for a couple of years."

Jeff Bezos speaking at the New York Economic Club luncheon in New York on Oct. 27, 2016
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Amazon reported first-quarter earnings at the end of last month that topped analyst estimates. Businesses such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), its cloud division, helped boost earnings. AWS launched in 2006 and is an example of growth seen in Amazon businesses beyond e-commerce which are now seeing big results.

Long-term thinking helps businesses focus on planning and where to spend their energy, Bezos explained, but it's not an easy thing to do.

"It's not natural for humans. So it's a discipline you have to build. The get rich slowly schemes are not big sellers on infomercials. That's something that you have to … teach over time," Bezos said.

To sum up, Bezos said that Amazon is a "collection of principles" such as long-term thinking and a customer-centric approach, something that has helped build the company into a giant, and clearly has made its founder happy.

"I dance into work," Bezos said.