Amazon shares dip as investors digest Jeff Bezos’ plan to step down as CEO following blockbuster Q4 earnings

Jeff Bezos

Shares in Amazon dipped on Wednesday after Jeff Bezos announced plans to step down as CEO and transition to executive chairman following a strong fourth-quarter.

The company delivered a strong beat on fourth-quarter earnings as its revenue grew 44%, topping $100 billion in a quarter for the first time. But its shares were trading around 1% lower at $3,348 per share at the market open.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy is to replace Bezos as Amazon’s CEO. Although the company may lose some of the vision of its founder, Amazon is still “very well placed for future growth disrupting more trillion dollar industries,” said Christopher Rossbach, CIO of asset management company J. Stern & Co.

The fact that the company broke records yet again this past holiday season, when its Prime delivery services were in high demand, goes to show that it’s “almost impossible” for any other retailer to match Amazon, Rossbach said. But after a defining year, it could be difficult to replicate the outsized growth it had in 2020.

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Investors must focus on the Amazon Prime membership base, which is expected to double in market share over the next decade, helping its stock rocket higher, he said.

Further, incoming CEO Jassy’s ascension from the AWS team is seen as a positive for Amazon.

Jassy fully understands the wealth of assets across Amazon’s flywheel of operations and the move should afford Bezos more time to focus on big new bets for the company, according to Nicholas McQuire, vice president of enterprise research at CCS Insight.

“The key question will be how Jassy manages some of the inevitable bumps in the road Amazon will face with issues like anti-trust, workers’ rights and employee activism on this rise,” he said.

Separately, Wedbush raised its price target on Amazon to $4,000 from $3,900 on Wednesday and reiterated an “outperform” rating. Analysts said it wasn’t clear Bezos would actually withdraw from day-to-day oversight of the business, and expected him to continue to be integrally involved in company strategy. 

Amazon’s stock has jumped roughly 70% over the past year. But since its last reported earnings in October, the stock has seen only a 6% increase, well below the broader S&P 500’s 16% rise in the same period.

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