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Morgan Stanley makes a bull case for Amazon in 2018, and sees it hitting $1 trillion in market cap

  • Morgan Stanley remains bullish on Amazon this year largely because of three factors: Better profitability, strong revenue growth, and expansion to large, under-penetrated markets.
  • It didn't change its $1,250 target price on Amazon but wrote in a note that these factors could eventually get Amazon shares to $2,000 — or $1 trillion in market cap.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
Brent Lewis | Getty Images
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon

Amazon will continue to draw investor demand this year, despite making record-level investments, Morgan Stanley wrote in a note published Friday.

The investment bank didn't change its $1,250 price target for Amazon, but reiterated its prediction of $2,000 per share — or roughly a $1 trillion market cap — under its "bull case" scenario.

It gave the three following reasons for its bullish position on Amazon:

  • High margin revenue streams: Amazon's gross profit margins could significantly increase this year because of the growth in its high margin businesses — AWS, Prime subscriptions, and Advertising/other segments. More gross profit gives Amazon more flexibility to invest in its operations, which allows it to spend more in new areas like international, video, and Alexa. "We believe continued strength in high margin revenue streams will start to outgrow investments in Video, salesforce, Alexa, and fulfillment centers," the note said.
  • Continued strong top-line growth: The company's revenue growth has bounced back to mid-to-high 20 percent in the last two years from closer to 20 percent growth in 2015. That's largely driven by its Prime member growth, Echo device sales, and the broader consumer shift to online shopping. "Investments will result in increased earnings and cashflow in out years and lead to positive estimate revisions," the note said.
  • Growth in under-penetrated and large markets: Amazon will continue to move into new markets, as it did with the acquisition of Whole Foods last year that immediately made the company a major presence the in brick-and-mortar grocery market. "We see Amazon's immediate addressable US market as $2.5 trillion, but this could expand to $5 trillion if it expands into more markets," the note said.

Under its $2,000 per share "bull case" scenario, which would get Amazon to the $1 trillion market cap milestone, Morgan Stanley estimates the core retail business to be worth $600 billion and the AWS cloud $273 billion. It forecasts Amazon's advertising business to get to $55 billion, while its subscription business would become worth $69 billion.