A surge in Amazon.com shares on Thursday in advance of the online retailer’s earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world’s richest person.
Shares of the online retailer rose 1.3% to US$1 065.92 at 10.10am in New York, giving Bezos a net worth of $90.9bn, versus $90.7bn for Gates. If that holds through the 4pm close, Bezos, 53, will leapfrog Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.
Investors and analysts, in addition to watching Amazon’s progress in taking market share in categories such as apparel and groceries, will be scrutinising how many new subscriptions the retailer sold for its $99/year Amazon Prime service, which offers delivery discounts and video and music streaming. Prime shoppers spend more than customers who don’t have a membership.
“Amazon Prime is why so much physical retail is going away,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1 250. “Anyone who joins Prime shops in retail stores 10% less, and that number will keep accelerating as Amazon adds more inventory.”
Investors also monitor Amazon’s cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services, a fast-growing and profitable business that accounts for about 10% of revenue. Amazon leads the cloud computing industry, but faces increasing competition from Microsoft and Google.
Amazon is expected to post quarterly revenue of $37.2bn, a 22% jump from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and earnings per share of $1.42.
Meanwhile, Facebook’s intraday gains have helped pull co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, 33, within $200m of Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, 86, who’s currently ranked fourth on the Bloomberg index with a net worth of $74.5bn.
Bezos owns about 17% of Seattle-based Amazon, which has surged 40% this year through Wednesday, helping to add $24.5bn to his net worth. He started 2017 as the world’s fourth wealthiest person and has since surpassed Buffett and Inditex founder Amancio Ortega, 81, who ranks third with $82.7bn. — Reported by Shelly Hagan and Spencer Soper, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP