Investing Make 121% when Amazon announces the true cost of surviving the washout of 2008. Circuit City is really dead this time. Theyve had troubles in the past. In fact, theyve threatened to go belly up most every time the economy stalls a bit. But this go round they have sold out down to bare walls, and then padlocked the doors. You wont be able to get overpriced junk from the Sharper Image anymore. Or cheap junk from Lillian Vernon for that matter. The recession has slain them both. No more sheets and towels from Linens n Things. And possibly none from Bed Bath and Beyond, if things dont turn around soon: the countrys largest home furnishings dealer just announced its fifth consecutive quarter of failing profits. Fifth Avenue Heartache Way over at the other end of the retail scale, that ultimate Fifth Avenue icon, Tiffanys, has confessed to a 35% drop in holiday sales at U.S. stores open at least one year. Squinting into 2009s cold winter headwind as best he can, CEO Michael J. Kowalski is looking to cut both Tiffanys profit forecast and any costs he can: We believe these conditions will continue well into 2009. New York City may be taking it on the chin this year, what with all the damage Wall Street has done to itself. But NYC millionaires and the folks who wait on them hand and foot are not the only ones hurting. A recent regulatory filing reveals that Dallas-based Neiman Marcus is about to lay off some 3% of its workforce. Its just so damn hard to sell 35lb. diamond-encrusted watches when oil is at $45 a barrel. Suddenly even the mighty, mighty Wal-Mart (WMT: NYSE), the one .pany you couldnt short, the recession-proof champ of hard times, is .ing up short and being downgraded by all and sundry. Squinting Through One Eye in the Land of the Blind Seems like most all these retail behemoths are stumbling about like blind men on the edge of a precipice. In fact, there is only one outfit in recent memory that has had any good news at all. Amazon (AMZN: NASDAQ) claims that not only did it survive Le Deluge, but this last holiday season was its best ever! Now, I know that Amazon has certain advantages over other retailers. First off, it does not need to employ sullen English majors to stock display shelves or pay desperate mall managers rent, utilities and 10% of every sale. It probably has the best just in time inventory system in the world. If sales slow down on an item, it simply back-orders and draws on the publishers inventory. Heck, if it thinks a book is a total dog, it just resells used copies. And Amazons not just about books anymore these days. You can buy most anything from them, from fur coats to blenders to, well, 35lb. diamond-encrusted watches. Which brings us to the nub of the problem. I dont care how well you control costs… selling stuff any kind of stuff for a profit in a recession this deep and this prolonged is a tough row to hoe. The Cost of Survival When Amazon floated their best ever holiday sales announcement, the .panys shares skyrocketed. But I must say that I was rather puzzled. I dont doubt that Amazon knows its sales figures, what with the aforementioned stellar .puterized inventory control and all. I just doubt whether they made but so much profit doing it. I suspect that, when Amazon announces earnings on the evening of Jan. 29, we will discover that it was forced to purchase that volume with much lower margins. Current expectations hold that Amazons annual sales will .e in around $6.5 billion, making for a 15% increase over 2007. Now thats a mighty feat in a crappy year. But I expect earnings to .e in down about 14% quarter-over-quarter. Last I checked, Amazon was sitting on some $2 billion in cash, so they can afford to buy customers for a while yet before they .e up short. But Amazons forward P/E is already somewhat ferocious at 35.54. Whats more, that P/E presumes that Amazon will manage to maintain earnings growth. When AMZN announces that earnings have stumbled, I expect shares to stumble some $10 to $20 as well. Needless to say, this makes them a candidate for either shorting or put options. Mid-dated at-the-money put options are currently featuring a delta of 0.39. A $20 drop would offer up 121% gains in short order. About the Author: 相关的主题文章:

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