Select Page

This has been one of the earnings seasons where even the reports that make other investors yawn conceal plenty of constructive detail if you know where to focus. (CRM) is a good case in point.

Revenue and earnings both came in where we expected, with $3.6 billion on the top line beating our target by $40 million and reflecting 26% growth from $2.8 billion last year. We had thought would book $0.55 per share in profit and got $0.70, double last year's level.

That earnings growth rate will cover a lot of gaps elsewhere in the numbers, which is what has happened here. Management currently believes revenue in the current quarter will come in as much as $20 million below previous forecasts, taking $0.01 per share in profit away. The 4Q18 windfall more than balances that shortfall, and by the time we get to the end of the year all the glitches will be forgotten. Full-year guidance will easily meet our expectations if not overshoot by as much as $80 million on the top line and $0.01 per share on the bottom.

Add it all up and this is a company expanding about as fast as we dared hope, give or take a little wobble from quarter to quarter. As far as we're concerned, the wobbles down are accumulation opportunities. The only thing that makes us sad here is that we won't get an immediate post-earnings chance to raise our $170 Target on But that day is coming.

Here's the buried nugget of gold from the conference call: Management is confident that by the time 2023 rolls around, this will be a company booking at least $26 billion a year in sales. That's double the current $13 billion run rate -- in just five years from now. It's ambitious but we like ambition here. And that number wasn't just pulled out of the air, either. When the executives saw the projection, they were as pleasantly surprised as we were, but that's where the math guided them. We love it.

Speaking of buried news, reports that Amazon is ramping up "dozens" of supermarkets in major cities is a strong positive catalyst for the company, which needs a little boost after last quarter's soft outlook. We're looking looking forward to Jeff Bezos applying his profit machine to the Brick-and-Mortar world, layering local warehousing and delivery into the central e-Commerce platform.

Granted, each of these new-concept stores will be expensive, but even at a cost of $8 million apiece they should make their money back in a brief period of time. Grocery is big business and Amazon generates $10 billion a year in profit -- they can afford a measured expansion. Those stores will just happen to include Pharmacy departments, so there's a lot more at stake here than fresh produce and packaged snacks.

We wouldn't mind seeing Amazon tap its technological expertise to create a Drugstore killer much as it wiped out chain Bookstores and other Retail categories. Either way, we can't wait to weight the results.