Amazon: Fretting Over Margins

The Street is suddenly concerned about pressure on gross margins at Amazon.com (AMZN). The issue came up in two Street research notes this morning; while in the real world it takes three data points to declare a trend, I’ll settle for two.

RBC Capital’s Stephen Ju this morning repeated his Outperform rating on the stock, but cut his price target to $70, from $73, and trimmed EPS estimates. For 2009, he now sees $1.88, down from $1.94. He writes that “channel checks indicate broad-based gross margin compression across the e-commerce landscape, with aggressive price promotions used to drive traffic.” And that includes Amazon. Ju believes Amazon employed price promotions and coupons in particular for “more highly trafficked, in-season, head-of-the-curve items.” He also cut his Q4 estimate to 50 cents, from 55 cents.

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