Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has accused the National Enquirer and its publisher, American Media Inc., of blackmail and extortion.
In a blog post published Thursday that included copies of his email correspondence, he wrote that AMI threatened to make public compromising photographs of him. AMI called those images newsworthy because, he wrote, they would "show Amazon shareholders that my business judgment is terrible."
In a statement Friday, AMI maintained it did nothing illegal but said it would begin an internal investigation.
CNBC's Jim Cramer has warned investors, "If you're selling Amazon off this, you're really stupid."
Other analysts agree. "I don't think the allegations have a direct line into the fundamentals of Amazon," said Anthony DiClemente, an internet analyst at Evercore ISI. "Certainly from a public relations standpoint, I don't think it's ideal. When you look at the fundamentals, it's hard to imagine it will have a negative impact."
Amazon shares were down 2 percent in early trading Friday. Still, if you had invested $1,000 in Amazon in February 2009, your initial outlay would be worth more than $23,600 as of February 2019, according to CNBC calculations. That's an increase of more than 2,000 percent.
Amazon's stock prices as of Feb. 8, 2019, at 11:18 a.m. ET. Click to enlarge
So far, 2019 has been a mediocre year for Amazon. The company is up about 5 percent this year, but it has underperformed the market's 7 percent gain.
On the heels of a hugely successful 2018, investors are starting to have concerns about the company's spending — but not its founder's personal life. In early January, Bezos announced that he and his wife are divorcing.
There have been a few highlights, though. In January, the e-commerce giant briefly surpassed Microsoft to become the largest publicly traded company in the U.S. by market cap when it hit a valuation of $789 billion and later ended that day at a value of $797 billion. Apple fell to fourth place, trailing both Microsoft and Alphabet.
As of Feb. 8, Amazon has a market cap of around $775 billion. Microsoft and Apple are in a tight race for first place: Both hold fluctuating market caps of more than $800 billion.
Amazon is expected to see shares surge more than 20 percent in 2019, according to a recent report from Pivotal Research Group.
In the note published in early January, analyst Brian Wieser predicted a $1,920 year-end price target for the retailer. That would mark a 21 percent rise in the price of the company's stock and put Amazon's valuation close to $1 trillion.
"Despite its current massive size, we see Amazon's opportunities as mostly unconstrained based on a successful track record of capitalizing on consumer and IT department spending," Wieser wrote.
The research note forecasts that Amazon's digital advertising business will continue to be a major source of revenue growth. In 2018, the sector grew more than 70 percent and earned Amazon the third-most digital ad sales for the year, behind only Google and Facebook, according to market research company e-Marketer.
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