Skip to main content
Here’s our annual high-level comparison of Amazon vs. Walmart.

From a growth perspective, Amazon wiped the floor with Walmart. AMZN added $18 billion in revenue for a 20.2% growth rate, while WMT shrank by $(3.5) billion or (0.7%).  WMT’s revenue was negatively affected by currency exchange rates moving against it, but even adjusting for that WMT’s revenue wasn’t in the realm of AMZN

From a GAAP earnings perspective, WMT maintains its lead, although that is diminishing. WMT’s GAAP operating margin was 5.0%, which was a 0.6 PPT improvement, while AMZN delivered 2.1% operating margin. However, AMZN’s margin improved a whopping 1.9 PPT.

WMT’s net income still dwarfs AMZN at $14.7 billion vs. $0.6 billion. But again, the change is informative: as WMT launched programs for higher associate pay and stronger e-commerce capability, its net income fell by 10.2% or $1.7 billion. Conversely, AMZN increased income by $0.8 billion from a prior year loss. While this is an annual comparison, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note that AMZN’s operating income exploded in the fourth quarter.

Cash provided by operations shows just how much AMZN is closing the gap to WMT in overall performance. WMT delivered a huge $27.4 billion in cash from operations, or 5.7% of revenue, but that was a decrease of $1.2 billion or a reduction of 0.2 PPT as a percentage of revenue. AMZN’s $11.9 billion of cash generated was 11.1% of revenue, a $5.1 billion increase and 3.45 PPT higher than the prior year.

WMT remains much better at returns on investment. Its ROIC was 12.8% compared to 3.6% for AMZN, and its ROE was 17.3% vs. AMZN’s 4.9%.  (Returns were calculated using a two-point BOY/EOY average).

Of course, valuation metrics are hugely in AMZN’s favor. As of this writing on June 10th, you’ll need to pay 296 times earnings to own AMZN at a price to sales ratio of 317%, while WMT can be purchased for 15.8 times earnings at a price to sales ratio of 46%.


Full disclosure, I own shares of WMT.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: What Matters Now by Gary Hamel

Interview of Eric Schmidt by Gary Hamel at the MLab dinner tonight. Google's Marissa Mayer and Hal Varian also joined the open dialog about Google's culture and management style, from chaos to arrogance. The video just went up on YouTube. It's quite entertaining. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Cover of The Future of ManagementMy list of must-read business writers continues to expand.Gary Hamel, however, author of What Matters Now, with the very long subtitle of How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation, has been on the list for quite some time.Continuing his thesis on the need for a new approach to management introduced in his prior book The Future of Management, Hamel calls for a complete rethinking of how enterprises are run.

Fundamental to his recommendation is that the practice of management is ossified in a command and control system that is now generations old and needs to be replaced with something that reflects an educat…
As happens this time of year, publishers list their most important/influential/etc. youngsters.  As an example, the May issue of Wired has “20 Unsung Geniuses”.  We think mature adults deserve recognition just as much as 20-something billionaires.  Here is our Sixty Over Sixty list of the most influential, annoying, important or folks we just find interesting.  Here then, sorted by age, is The Sixty Most Important Leaders Over Sixty.
Henry Kissinger.  Still the U.S. best thinker on foreign policy and diplomacy. His recently published book (at age 91) World Order is not only a best seller, it is extraorinary. Jimmy Carter.  Better as an ex-President than President.  His work for Habitat for Humanity is a lesson for all of us. T. Boone Pickens.  Oilman, energy expert.  Creator of The Pickens Plan for energy independence. Frank Gehry.  Showing the world what new materials and CAD design can do to architecture. Warren Bufett. Best investor in history.  Becoming one of the best philanthro…

The Acceleration of Asset Lite Business Models

The number of asset lite businesses is steadily increasing, as is the breadth of industries effected.  I first noticed them in the 1970’s, when Baron Hilton sold several flagship Hilton hotels while retaining management contracts that entitled Hilton Corporation to a share of revenue and earnings. Over the next two decades, Marriott Corp copied and then perfected the hotel management agreement business approach, coupling a Marriott franchise with a management agreement for any one of a growing stable of brands (Fairfield Inns, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inns, J.W. Marriott, etc. etc.), enabling absentee investor/owners.  It turns out, however, that asset lite business structures date back much earlier.
Franchises and Dealers Early versions of asset lite businesses include franchise and dealer organizations. Soft drink and beer distributors, auto dealers and tire and repair franchises date to the early nineteen hundreds, as manufacturers needed mass distribution. The dealers furn…