Amazon hits all-time high as Wall Street gushes over Prime price hike, new markets

Key Points
  • Amazon hits an all-time high as Wall Street gushes over Prime's price hike and Amazon's new markets.
  • Goldman Sachs reiterates its buy rating for Amazon shares, saying the company is still in the "early stages" in many of its key markets.
  • Prime annual membership will now cost $119, up $20, starting on May 11.
Decent shot Amazon could get to $1 trillion by year-end, says analyst

Wall Street is buzzing over Amazon's impressive March quarter results.

Analysts are growing more confident over the prospects for many of Amazon's new businesses including subscription services, advertising and cloud computing.

The e-commerce juggernaut reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings results Thursday. It also gave profit guidance for its second quarter significantly above Wall Street expectations.

Amazon shares soared as much as 7.9 percent in early trading Friday, briefly surpassing its all-time high of $1,617.54. The stock closed up 3.6 percent.

Goldman Sachs reiterated its buy rating, saying Amazon is still in the "early stages" in many of its key markets.

"We are in the sweet spot between Amazon investment cycles where new fulfillment/data centers are driving accelerating revenue growth while incremental capacity utilization is driving margin expansion," analyst Heath Terry wrote in a note to clients Friday. "We still remain in the early stages of the shift of compute to the cloud and the transition of traditional retail online and, in our opinion, the market is underestimating the long-term financial benefit of both to Amazon."

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Terry raised his price target for Amazon shares to $2,000 from $1,825, representing 32 percent upside from Thursday's close.

Several analysts expressed optimism over the company's Amazon Prime price hike. The company announced on Thursday it plans to increase the price of its annual Prime membership to $119 from $99 starting on May 11.

"We are raising our topline and operating margin estimates for FY:18 and beyond reflecting the continued momentum in Prime and accelerating growth in its two more profitably businesses, AWS and advertising," Stifel analyst Scott Devitt wrote in a note to clients Friday.

Devitt raised his price target to $2,020 from $1,800 and reaffirmed his buy rating for the company's stock.

J.P. Morgan believes consumers will stick with the service even with its higher cost.

"The last time AMZN raised the price of Prime was in March 2014, & we do not expect the company to get much pushback from consumers given the increasing value of the service," analyst Doug Anmuth wrote in a note to clients Friday.

UBS predicted Amazon's Prime price increase will benefit the company's subscription services sales growth.

"We believe that strong Prime member growth, and fast seller FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon] adoption will continue to advance Amazon's Prime + FBA flywheel effect that is likely to be supportive of a ~20% rev growth CAGR ('17-'22)," analyst Eric Sheridan wrote in a note to clients Thursday. Our "upward revision [of subscription services revenue] also reflects announced Prime membership fee increase."

In similar fashion, Bank of America Merrill Lynch predicted strong earnings growth from the company's high-profit margin new businesses.

"Amazon's share in its key markets continues to expand, supported by strong fulfillment infrastructure and Prime lock-in, while the earlier stage higher margins businesses of AWS and advertising are contributing to more meaningful profit growth," analyst Justin Post wrote in a note to clients Friday.

Post reiterated his buy rating and increased his price target to $1,840 from $1,650 for the company's shares.

Amazon is one of the best-performing large-cap stocks in the market. Its shares rallied 30 percent this year through Thursday versus the S&P 500's roughly flat return.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.


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