Talk about corporate populism! Where most CEOs these days
concern themselves with the grim job of improving, if
ever-so-slightly, on the year-ago quarter's EPS figure, and maybe
on talking the company's stock up a bit, Amazon's (
) Jeff Bezos at times seems utterly disconnected from those
As the online retailer announced a $274 million third-quarter
loss, and sales growth below Wall Street expectations, Bezos was
talking over the heads of investors to - well, who knows who he's
"Our approach is to work hard to charge less," Bezos said in
the third-quarter earnings release. "Sell devices near breakeven
and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low
price point." He then went on to discuss how cool the Kindle's
various models are, albeit profit is not a feature of the
Ticking off its recent achievements, Amazon's press release
went on to brag: "Amazon announced it is hiring for more than
50,000 seasonal positions at its fulfillment centers across the
U.S. this holiday season. Amazon employs more than 20,000 people
across its 40 U.S. fulfillment centers and pays its full-time,
permanent employees 30% more than what traditional retail store
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be doing so much to ease
the jobless rate. If every American CEO started hiring like Jeff
Bezos, and paid workers more than the competition, well this
damned recession would be over tomorrow. Corporate profits? Well,
that's another matter.
has reported, despite the incredibly efficient service we Amazon
customers experience, productivity of late at the company has
taken a dive, as worker headcount rises faster than sales.
AMZN Revenue TTM
Amazon's fans, the fans of the stock, that is, seem to think
there is some magic milestone at which -- $100 billion in sales?
The demise of Best Buy (
) and Barnes & Noble (
)? Apple (
) deciding to voluntarily leave the gadget business? - the
profits will start to pour in, making the company as profitable
as it is popular with consumers. But really, even if rival
retailers go kaput, do you really think new ones won't pop up in
their place? And having gained its customers by discounting and
offering free shipping, does it seem plausible that Amazon would
all of a sudden jack up prices and not suffer a huge loss in
Bezos, jumping up and down and waving the pom poms over Kindle
and more new warehouses and all the nice young people he's
putting to work, doesn't address these concerns. And to date,
with a blip here and there, investors seem to be buying it.
Maybe the guy ought to run for president.
Jeff Bailey is the editor of YCharts, which includes the
YCharts Pro Platinum
for professional investors.