Tag Archives: Amazon

Sears Stock Rallies After Amazon Deal Gives Its Stores a Surprise Boost
August 30, 2018 12:00 am|Comments (0)

The summer of 2018 has been another tough period for Sears, but there’s one thing that has reliably helped lift the retailer’s share price: Amazon.

On Tuesday, Sears Holdings announced that it’s expanding a pilot program with Amazon to install and balance automobile tires that consumers buy through Amazon. Under the partnership, Amazon shoppers who buy tires, including the Die-Hard brand made by Sears, can ship the tires to a nearby Sears Auto Center for installation.

Amazon also offers similar ship-to-store programs with, for example, local bike shops. In May, when Sears announced it would service tires bought on Amazon, its shares shot up 38% during the following week.

Sears’ stock more than gave up those gains in June, however, after the company said sales fell 31% in its most-recent quarter and announced it would close 72 more stores. That was on top of hundreds of stores that Sears had closed in the previous couple of years. Last week, Sears said it would close yet another 46 stores, dragging its share price down even further to a record low of $ 1.08 a share.

News that Amazon and Sears were expanding the ship-to-store program from 47 initial stores to all Sears Auto Centers in the U.S. offered Sears a reprieve from the weeks of a declining share price. Sears shares surged as much as 23% to $ 1.37 a share Tuesday. While Sears’ stock price drifted down Wednesday, they were trading about 3% higher in afterhours trading at $ 1.26 a share.

Sears has been undergoing a long, painful restructuring for several years, with the stock now down 96% from its high point in 2013. Sears, K-Mart, and other onetime powerful retail brands have been struggling in the era of Amazon retailing. Amazon, meanwhile, has been working with brick-and-mortar retailers, including partnerships with Sears and Kohl’s and the purchase of Whole Foods Market.

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Amazon forays into Australia with small loss
August 3, 2018 12:00 pm|Comments (0)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc, whose entry into Australia last year rattled established bricks-and-mortar retailers, posted a modest loss in its earliest days in the country, corporate filings show.

FILE PHOTO: Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City,U.S., January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Amazon’s foray into Australia was met with fevered attention from investors and a steep selldown in traditional retail stocks.

The U.S. company launched its website on Dec. 5, though it ran preparatory operations through the year, racking up a modest loss of almost A$ 9 million ($ 6.6 million).

In the Christmas trading weeks from the launch to Dec. 31, it turned over A$ 6.3 million in direct sales versus total Australian retail sales of A$ 26.3 billion that month.

These figures, however, are unlikely to be indicative of the future performance of a company that reported losses and roller-coaster results for years, but is now the second-biggest company in the world and closely watched on Wall Street.

The Australian trading period was too short for meaningful analysis, said Evan Lucas, chief market strategist at fund manager InvestSmart.

“Amazon is not the kind of company that accepts failure – they have a longer term goal.”

Amazon hit logistical snafus in Australia’s vast interior and handed eBay Inc – market leader in Australia – some victory after a move last month to block Australians from shopping on its foreign websites drew customer backlash.

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on the filing and directed Reuters to previous commentary about record Australian sales during a promotion in July without quantifying them.

The filing was lodged in April but the results were not reported at the time. They were first reported on Friday by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Last week, Amazon forecast strong fall sales for its overall operations and posted a $ 2.5 billion quarterly profit that was double Wall Street targets on the back of its younger businesses – cloud computing and advertising.

($ 1 = 1.3569 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Manolo Serapio Jr.

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Amazon hands goodwill to eBay with move to shut Australians out of overseas sites
July 19, 2018 6:57 am|Comments (0)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian home entertainment installer Paul Boon has relied for years on Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) U.S. website for cheap wall racks and other parts to keep his costs down.

FILE PHOTO: A web page featuring Amazon’s Australian URL is pictured in this photo illustration April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed/Illustration/File Photo

But Amazon’s recent move to stop Australians from shopping on its foreign websites, due to a new law that requires it to collect taxes, is turning away once-loyal customers like Boon.

He’s considering a switch to eBay Inc (EBAY.O), adding that prices for wall mounts were 40 percent higher on Amazon’s Australia site if they appeared there at all.

“I’ll be going somewhere else to get that regular stuff,” said Boon by telephone from the northern city of Brisbane, where he runs his business.

Amazon’s launch of an Australian site in December, followed by last month’s introduction of its Prime service for faster delivery, has been heralded as a game changer for the country’s retail industry. But it has gotten off to a choppy start.

For customers like Boon, the retail giant has lost years of goodwill by forcing shoppers onto a local site with a product range roughly one ninth of the U.S. site and which sells some goods at higher prices.

It has also given online marketplace eBay, Amazon’s bigger and more established rival in Australia, the opportunity to swoop in and capture that goodwill, building its first automatic tax collection and payment system and wooing local customers with discounts.

TAXING ISSUES

Australia is the first market where Amazon, the world’s second-most valuable company worth $ 890 billion, has responded to a sales tax on internet purchases by shutting out customers based on where they live.

An Amazon spokesman said in an email the company would continue to build its range of goods and services through its Australian site, and that it was “thrilled with the reception it has received from Australian customers” since introducing Amazon Prime.

The Australian government extended its 10 percent goods and services tax (GST) to all goods bought online from overseas, effective July 1, requiring online retailers to collect the tax. It was previously applicable only to overseas purchases over A$ 1,000 ($ 745).

Amazon also gave Australians just one month’s notice that they would be shut out of its global network – sales are cut off when an Australian delivery address is entered – even though the government’s plans were announced a year ago.

Critics say the decision was an excuse to drive traffic to its new local site and promote its Amazon Prime service.

“I’ve no doubt that Amazon will be successful here in time, but I don’t believe that this strategy is what’s going to catapult them to success,” said Ryan Murtagh, CEO of Neto, a provider of data and logistics support for about 3,000 online retailers in Australia.

“I think actually it potentially could damage them in the long term.”

Amazon has some 550 million products on its U.S. site including those sold by Amazon and third-party sellers, according to Boomerang Commerce, an artificial intelligence technology firm in California. That compares with the 500-600 million offers from third-party sellers on eBay, which includes duplicate products.

EBAY’S EDGE

Ebay said the decision to build the new tax collection and payment system had paid off with early figures suggesting Australian shoppers were not swayed by the new tax.

“It was a big change and it was a global change that needed to be done,” said eBay’s local managing director, Tim MacKinnon, adding that the effort was led by its California headquarters.

“A lot of people worked on it, a lot of different teams. We’re really proud that we hit the July 1 deadline.”

He added its decision to offer Australian shoppers a 10 percent discount on its local, British and U.S. websites for the first week of July had helped generate business.

“All of our sites have accelerated,” said MacKinnon.

While neither Amazon nor eBay provide data on visitors to their sites and estimating their share of Australia’s A$ 26 billion-a-year online retail market is difficult, customer dissatisfaction with Amazon Australia is not hard to find. Its Facebook page is overrun with negative comments.

Amazon’s move has also prompted non-Amazon freight forwarders who buy items from the U.S. store domestically and mail them to Australia to seize new opportunities. One such firm, New York’s Big Apple Buddy, this week set up a new site for Australian shoppers.

Securities analysts argue, however, that Amazon plays a long game and that given its track record in dominating online retail in many countries, whatever missteps it makes can be fixed over time.

“It is highly likely they will get it right in Australia over the longer term, and prices will be competitive, service will be outstanding, and they will eat eBay’s lunch,” Michael Pachter, managing director of equity research at Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities, said by email.

Reporting by Byron Kaye and Tom Westbrook; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and Nicholas Ford in Sydney; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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6 Weird and Awesome Amazon Prime Day Deals
July 17, 2018 6:55 pm|Comments (0)

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, it’s likely that you’ve had a shopping list ready for weeks. But if you’re just browsing today through July 18, we have a few Prime Day deals on weird or quirky items that you might not have even considered. From robots you can keep in your home to Japanese-style toilet seats, here are the strangest, coolest discounted items we’ve seen this Prime Day.

Jibo, The Social Robot

JIBO

Jibo is kind of like an Alexa speaker… if Alexa had a body, face, and could dance. When we reviewed Jibo a year ago he brought us joy and creeped us out in almost equal order, but we kept him around. In the year since, he’s learned how to play a couple games, give you a daily report, play the radio, tell slightly better jokes, and communicate back and forth just a little.

He’s nowhere near perfect, but for $ 500, it’s a lot easier to give Jibo a try if you’d like to be one of the first homes with an actual robot. He’s the only product you’ll feel guilty about unplugging.

Buy Jibo for $ 500 (Was $ 900)

Nuraphones

Nuraphone

The Nuraphones are the strangest, and most interesting headphones you can buy, as we discovered when we reviewed them. They’re a hybrid between an earbud and over-ear design, and that’s because of their central feature: they use NASA-grade microphones to scan your ear and map out your hearing. Once the Nuraphones know how sensitive each of your ears is to each of a range of high and low frequencies, it makes a custom sound profile just for your ears.

It takes some time to get used to the probing feeling of earbuds inside headphones, but the sound speaks for itself. We also like that Nura just sent out a free firmware update to all users that adds active noise cancelling, more button functionality, and ambient noise pickup, so you can hear the outside world better, if you want.

Buy the Nuraphones for $ 300 (Was $ 400)

Furbo Dog Camera

Furbo

Is your stay-at-home dog so over frozen dog food in Kongs? We loved the Furbo when we reviewed it. It’s clean, simple, easy to use, and you can also remotely toss Cheerios at your crawling infants in a pinch.

Buy the Furbo Dog Camera for $ 139 (was $ 249).

Walabot In-Wall Imager

Vayyar Imaging

We tried the Walabot at CES 2018. It gives you X-ray vision when you’re remodeling your house, letting you spot studs, wires, or even moving rats (er, objects). Nota bene: It doesn’t work for iPhone users.

Buy the Walabot In-Wall Imager for $ 56 (was $ 70).

PicoBrew Model C Beer Brewing Appliance

PicoBrew

Homebrewing is a lot of fun, but unless you have a lot of friends, it’s hard to drink a full keg of beer every other week. The PicoBrew lets you fine-tune your recipes five liters at a time.

Buy the PicoBrew Model C Beer Brewing Appliance for $ 280 (was $ 400).

Toto Washlet Electronic Bidet

Toto

Do you want a fast and easy way to spruce up your bathroom routine? Toto’s washlet electronic bidet toilet seats are heated, and have customizable washing temperatures and pressure settings. Add your pick (out of many!) to your cart to see the discount.

Toto Washlets are 20% Off, starting at $ 257.

More Prime Day Coverage

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Cisco sinks on report Amazon wading into networking equipment
July 13, 2018 6:48 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Shares of Cisco Systems Inc and other network equipment makers fell on Friday after a report that Amazon.com Inc’s cloud services business was considering selling its own network switches to business customers at much lower prices.

FILE PHOTO: Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery in the Manhattan borough of New York City, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Cisco’s shares were down 5 percent, wiping off nearly $ 11 billion from its market capitalization. Shares of Juniper Networks Inc and Arista Networks Inc fell 4 percent as investors feared that Amazon’s scale and pricing power could disrupt the sector.

The report comes days after Amazon sent shockwaves across the drug retailing sector with its move to buy small online pharmacy PillPack.

The networking devices will consist of open-source software and unbranded hardware known as “white-box” switches and come with built-in connections to AWS cloud services, such as servers and storage, the Information said.

Amazon Web Services could price its white-box switches 70-80 percent less than comparable switches from networking giant Cisco, the report said, citing one of the people with direct knowledge of the unit’s plan.

“If true, we think this would be a notable negative for the networking equipment space going forward,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mitch Steves wrote in a note.

AWS expects to launch the switches for sale within the next 18 months, according to the report.

Amazon and Juniper did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cisco and Arista declined to comment.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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Build it or Buy It: Will Amazon or Walmart Win the Retail Innovation Battle?
July 1, 2018 6:26 am|Comments (0)

Photographer: Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg

Amazon’s recent news that it will be replacing more humans with yet another algorithmic solution is the latest example of the company’s thrust to innovate through self-built technology. 

With Amazon’s patent count rising again last year, it’s clear the company’s “build it” strategy is largely meant to out-invent, rather than outbid, the next big idea. Amazon received 1,963 patents in 2017 according to the latest data released by the IFI Claims office, and holds more patents than any other retailer in the industry (7,096). In fact, at $ 22.6 billion, Amazon spent more in R&D than any other U.S. company last year (up 41 percent from 2016), topping Microsoft, Intel, Facebook and even Apple according to a recent story in Recode.  

Amazon has a deep history of effectively chasing patents, which stems from lessons learned in the dot-com era. For example, Amazon’s patent for one-click shopping was issued in 1999 and set the norm for the entire retail industry.

Fast forward nearly twenty years. Today we have Amazon Prime and Amazon Marketplace, and the company is still three steps ahead, inventing what is possible by both shaping and anticipating the needs of consumers. According to a recent CNBC article, Amazon was issued patents last year for augmented reality mirrors that would enable users to try on clothes virtually by projecting different outfits onto the user. They’ve also patented a “smart” sensor-studded package delivery air vehicle, an option that would mute the Amazon Echo’s video mode for user privacy and even one that would detect hacked self-driving cars.  

Walmart, by comparison, currently holds only 349 patents, and the company has largely based its innovation strategy around buying the latest and greatest new ideas. 

According to a TechCrunch story late last year, the company considers acquisition core to its innovation model, particularly in the technology, retail and digital native brands categories. Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S, who founded Jet.com (bought by Walmart in 2016), noted in recent comments that in Walmart’s view, “specialist positioning is better than mass,” and that the acquisition spree will continue. Recent acquisitions include ShoeBuy, Moosejaw, Bonobos, Parcel, Hayneedle and ModCloth.

Walmart has also started its own incubator, Store No. 8, which aims to “nurture startup businesses,” allowing them to run just like other startups but be “ring-fenced by the rest of the organization and backed by the largest retailer in the world,” according to Lore. 

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Amazon Replaces Merchants with Bots: How Levi's, Wolverine Worldwide and Saks Can Compete
June 24, 2018 6:14 am|Comments (0)

Shutterstock

I came across an interesting article in Bloomberg last week. Amazon has been synonymous with robotics and automation, but for the most part that has been relegated to stocking the shelves and other operational tasks in the warehouse. Interestingly, according to the article, automation is starting to take over the roles of the white collar workforce as well. The article states:

“Machines are beating people at the critical inventory decisions that separate the winners and losers in retail. For the staffers deciding how many books, games or plastic pool toys to peddle, the tradeoff can be stark: Order too little and you miss out. Order too much and you’re forced into costly clearance sales. Amazon’s algorithms, refined through years of monitoring customer behavior, are getting the Seattle-based company out of the guessing game.”

Data-backed decisions are a topic that I discuss a lot on Forbes. It’s something that I firmly believe in. Retailers and brands can no longer rely solely on intuition given the power that the consumer has at his or her fingertips. Customers can find any product they want at the price they want, so how are retailers and brands going to deliver that differentiated product AND keep up with Amazon?

Not all retailers can be as fortunate as Walmart, who has the ability to purchase other companies to keep pace with Amazon. Acquisitions like Jet.com and Flipkart are enabling Walmart to compete on the web and in India, respectively. I will be writing more about this next week on the BUILD vs BUY mentality that Amazon and Walmart are exhibiting. For now though, its partnership with Lord & Taylor and acquisitions of ModCloth and Bonobos are also enabling the company to stake a firm claim in fashion. I expect Walmart is already on the prowl for its next acquisition, which likely would be similar to Amazon’s new technology.

So, while Amazon’s strategy has been to develop technologies internally and Walmart’s is to acquire technologies, how can the rest of retailers and brands like Levi’s, Wolverine Worldwide and Saks Fifth Avenue keep pace? Not everyone’s checkbook can afford a multi-million or even billion dollar investment, but you MUST compete.

It’s the same principle as any other facet of your life. If you’re heading on a trip and you need a GPS system to navigate you there, your first thought isn’t, “I should develop something.” Instead, you log onto the App Store, read reviews and download what you think is the best GPS solution for your needs.

The same is true in this scenario. As I’ve stated before, there are numerous technologies that retailers and brands should be doubling down on to compete with Amazon and position themselves best against their competition. Technologies that aid in critical product development and inventory decisions are just the latest that Amazon has shined a spotlight on.

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Is Digital Transformation The Key To Competing With Amazon?
June 10, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Shutterstock

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Amy Kenly, Vice President in Kalypso’s Digital Innovation Practice. Kalypso is a global consulting firm that guides some of the world’s largest brands on their path to Digital Transformation. While their experience spans high technology, life sciences and industrial manufacturing, a large portion of their clients are in retail as the industry shows increasing interest in new technologies.

While the retail industry outlook doesn’t seem as dire as it once was, it’s more important than ever for retailers and brands to execute to really thrive. In my recent articles, I’ve written about the investments retailers and brands should consider for the funds from their corporate tax savings. My conversation with Amy uncovers some additional perspectives for retailers to consider.

GP:  We’re seeing a lot of conflicting reports on the current state of the retail industry, with some claiming it’s a Retail Renaissance, and others saying we’re still in survival mode. What’s your view?

AK: Everything seems to be moving in a positive direction for the retail industry. The NRF has predicted 3.8 to 4.4 percent growth, which is strong. What continues to be challenging and volatile for traditional retailers is capturing their share of the growing revenue.

Innovative startups like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, for example, are capturing a growing percentage of retail sales, as are new direct-to-consumer business models that put suppliers in direct competition with retailers. With the closing of Toys R Us for example, Mattel – who used to distribute through Toys R Us – is now going direct to consumers.

This is making it very difficult for big, traditional retailers who are trying to find ways to differentiate themselves. While Walmart and Target are focused on figuring out e-commerce, which is good, it’s not a differentiator anymore.

Further, while larger retailers have a renewed commitment to private brands and new differentiated products in line with consumer demand, it can be harder for them to pivot toward new, digitally-enabled business models. We’re seeing them starting to acquire startups instead. Walmart ’s recent acquisition of Bonobos as well as Target ’s acquisition of Shipt are good examples.

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Amazon Is Expanding Whole Foods Perks to More Areas. Here’s Where
May 30, 2018 6:08 pm|Comments (0)

Amazon is quickly ramping up its efforts to bring more perks to Prime members shopping at Whole Foods stores.

The tech giant on Wednesday announced that it was expanding its Whole Foods discounts to an additional 121 stores across 12 states, including California, Colorado, and Texas. The perks will also be available at all the Whole Foods Market 365 stores across the U.S.

When Amazon Prime members buy products at participating locations, they’ll get a 10% discount on all sale items. Amazon said that the discounts typically apply to hundreds of products in the store and will change each week. This week, for instance, Prime members can get the discount on raspberries, crackers, and probiotics, among other products.

If you’re not an Amazon Prime subscriber, however, you’re out of luck. In addition to Whole Foods discounts, Prime subscribers get free two-day shipping and discounted one-day shipping on their Amazon purchases, among several other perks.

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Amazon launched its discount program earlier this month in Florida, where it did a trial of the discounts. It said at the time that it would launch the program to additional states over the summer. Amazon didn’t say in its statement on Wednesday when the Prime perks might be available to Whole Foods locations in other states.

To take advantage of the new Whole Foods offer, you’ll need to download the Whole Foods Market app. Once you sign in with your Amazon account and scan the app’s Prime Code at checkout, you’ll receive your discount.

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Apple is almost a $1 trillion company, but watch out for Amazon
May 11, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple is on the verge of becoming the first $ 1 trillion publicly listed U.S. company, but even if it gets there, it could soon be overtaken as Amazon.com surges from behind.

FILE PHOTO – Tim Cook, CEO, speaks about Amazon during Apple’s annual world wide developer conference (WWDC) in San Jose, California, U.S. June 5, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Started in the garage of co-founder Steve Jobs in 1976, the iPhone maker’s annual revenue has ballooned to $ 229 billion, greater than the gross domestic product of countries including Portugal and New Zealand.

(Big Tech Rev vs Countries’ GDP: reut.rs/2ry9qr6)

Apple’s market capitalization on Thursday topped a record $ 934 billion, following its unveiling last week of a $ 100 billion buyback budget and news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway dramatically increased its stake in the company.

Thanks to a 12 percent rally since its quarterly report last Tuesday, the Cupertino, California company is just 8 percent short of hitting the $ 1 trillion valuation mark.

Pointing to Apple’s recent 31 percent jump in service revenue, including music streaming and online storage, CFRA analyst Angelo Zino on Wednesday upped his target price for the stock from $ 195 to $ 210, which would put Apple’s market capitalization at $ 1.03 trillion. Zino joins at least 12 other analysts with price targets putting Apple’s stock market value at 13 digits.

But Apple is in danger of being beaten to the $ 1 trillion mark – or passed soon after – by Amazon.com, the second largest listed U.S. company by market value, at $ 780 billion.

Saudi Arabian authorities, meanwhile, have said they expect a planned international initial public offering of Saudi Aramco that would value the national oil producer at about $ 2 trillion.

While $ 148 billion smaller than Apple on Friday, Amazon of late has expanded its stock price, and its sales, much more quickly than Apple. Amazon’s stock is red hot, trading recently at over 100 times expected earnings, compared to more-profitable – but slower growing – Apple’s valuation of 15 times earnings.

(Big Tech PEs:reut.rs/2wsd0YU )

Apple’s stock has risen 24 percent over the past year, fueled by optimism about the iPhone X, the company’s latest smartphone. But demand for the $ 1,000 device has underwhelmed investors, and bulls are now focused on Apple’s plan to return more cash to shareholders.

By comparison, Amazon’s stock has surged 70 percent over the past 12 months, bolstered by 31 percent revenue growth as more shopping moves online and businesses shift their IT departments to the cloud, where Amazon Web Services leads the market.

Amazon is also competing more with Apple and Google owner Alphabet as it sells music and video content, its Fire TV device and its Alexa smart home gadget.

(Big Tech Revenue: reut.rs/2wyZaE4 )

At $ 765 billion, Alphabet has the third largest market capitalization on Wall Street, with Microsoft close behind at $ 749 billion. Amazon breezed past both them both in February.

(Long-Term Market Cap:reut.rs/2rzCGxD )

Including Facebook, the five largest listed U.S. companies now account for 15 percent of the S&P 500’s $ 24 trillion market capitalization.

(Big Tech’s Outsized Weight in S&P 500: reut.rs/2rwBTOc)

To be sure, past stock gains are not a reliable predictor of future performance, and the surge in Apple’s and Amazon’s shares in recent years has been exceptional by most standards.

But if Apple’s stock were to keep growing at the pace seen over the past year, the company’s market capitalization would hit $ 1 trillion in September. Amazon would reach $ 1 trillion around October if its stock price continued to rise at the same rate as the past year, and overtake Apple soon after.

Extending forward their own one-year performances, Microsoft would not reach $ 1 trillion until early 2019, and Alphabet would take until 2020.

(Race to $ 1 Trillion Market Cap:reut.rs/2rz4WAJ )

Most Wall Street analysts are less optimistic. The mean analyst price target puts Apple’s stock 6 percent above current levels at $ 200 within the next 12 months, which would elevate its market capitalization to $ 983 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The mean price target of analysts covering Amazon is $ 1,850, a 15 percent premium over its current price, which would give it a market value of $ 898 billion. Analysts target Microsoft to rise 12 percent to reach $ 845 billion, and for Alphabet’s market value to increase 16 percent to $ 884 billion.

(Big Tech Analyst Price Targets:reut.rs/2wv224H )

Reporting by Noel Randewich, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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