Market Beat: The Amazon initial public offering |

Market Beat: The Amazon initial public offering

Ken Roberts
Market Beat

As I’m writing this, it is the 20th anniversary of the initial public offering for internet retail giant Amazon.

Amazon first began trading as a public company on May 15, 1997. When it first went public, Amazon was trading at $18 per share. On Monday, May 15, the company hit an all-time high of over $963 per share.

The stock has been through a few splits, but has not had one in recent years. They did a 2:1 split in 1998, then a 3:1 split, and another 2:1 split in 1999. According to Investopedia, a $100 investment in Amazon on the initial public offering would be worth over $63,000 today.

Investors who purchased at the IPO and held until May 15 would have also gone through a rough patch when the dot com bubble burst. The stock hit a high of $113 per share in 1999, and went under $6 per share in 2001.

It took it 10 years to get back to the 1999 high of $113, hitting that level again in 2009. A tremendous amount of patience is required to ride out a 10-year slump like that one.

Internet retail sales have grown substantially over the years, and brick and mortar retail stores have been suffering. Amazon has grown into a very large company today with a market cap over $457 billion dollars. Market cap, or capitalization, is the share price times the number of shares outstanding, and the result gives us the size of the company in dollar terms.

They do not pay any dividends and the current PE, or price to earnings ratio, for the last 12 months is 179.95. Their revenue over the trailing 12-month period has been over $142 billion dollars. They have a profit margin for the last quarter of just over 2 percent.

Amazon started off as an online bookseller, added electronics and now offers just about everything, including food, vitamins, clothing and sporting goods. You can even get your skis and snowboards right from Amazon these days.

The internet has changed our lives in so many ways since it was invented. To be able to sit down at home or the office and order a product you need and have it on your doorstep in a day or two is truly amazing. It is highly likely that internet retail will continue to gain market share over brick and mortar in the future.

Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee-based Registered Investment Advisor. Information is at his blog at or 775-657-8065. The mention of securities should not be considered an offer to sell or solicitation to buy investments mentioned. Consult your investment professional to understand the risks and/or how the purchase or sale of these investments may be implemented to meet your investment goals. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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