Amazon follows Apple to the US$1tn sphere


Thu, Sep 06, 2018 - Page 10 Inc on Tuesday became the second publicly traded company to reach US$1 trillion in market value, hot on the heels of iPhone maker Apple Inc.

The milestone is another sign of Amazon’s swift rise from an online bookseller to a behemoth that sells toilet paper, TVs and just about anything. In its two decades, Amazon has expanded far beyond online shopping and into healthcare, advertising and cloud computing.

Its growth has boosted the fortunes of its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. His 16 percent stake in Amazon is now worth more than US$160 billion.

Forbes magazine placed him at the top of its list of billionaires for the first time this year, surpassing Microsoft Corp cofounder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett.

Amazon’s stock has increased almost 600 percent in the past five years, including a more than 70 percent surge so far this year.

On Tuesday morning, the stock climbed enough to push the company’s valuation pass the US$1 trillion mark, although it dropped back slightly after that. The stock closed at US$2,039.51 on Tuesday, about US$11 short of keeping its valuation above US$1 trillion.

Apple topped the US$1 trillion mark early last month. Saudi Arabia’s national energy company, Aramco, is widely believed to be worth much more than either Amazon or Apple.

Amazon’s growing power has made it a target of politicians. US President Donald Trump has said the company should pay the US Postal Service more in shipping costs.

US Senator Bernie Sanders has frequently noted the disparity between what Amazon’s warehouse workers make and Bezos’ vast fortune.

Amazon has remained publicly silent about Trump’s criticism, but has called Sanders’ comments “misleading.”

Wall Street has become very enthusiastic about Amazon’s businesses outside of retail. Amazon Web Services provides cloud computing services to companies and governments, and Amazon’s advertising division makes billions by selling ads to companies that want their products to show up when shoppers search on the site.

Those profitable businesses have helped offset the high costs associated with running its online store. Amazon saw its quarterly profit soar past US$2 billion for the first time earlier this year as the online shopping, cloud computing and advertising businesses all kept growing.