A surge in Amazon.com Incorporatedâ€™s shares thursday ahead of the online retailerâ€™s earnings report briefly propelled its founder, Jeff Bezos, past Bill Gates as the worldâ€™s richest person.
According to Bloomberg, shares of the online retailer traded at $1,055.37 at 2:17p.m. in New York, after climbing as high as $1,083.31, which gave Bezos a net worth of $92.3 billion. Gates had a net worth of $90.8 billion as of the Wednesday close. In afternoon trading, Bezos was ranked second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, behind the Microsoft Corp. co-founder. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.
Investors and analysts, in addition to watching Amazonâ€™s progress in taking market share in categories such as apparel and groceries, woud be scrutinising how many new subscriptions the retailer sold for its $99-a-year Amazon Prime service, which offers delivery discounts and video and music streaming. Prime shoppers spend more than customers who donâ€™t have a membership.
â€œAmazon Prime is why so much physical retail is going away,â€ said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Incorporated analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1,250.
â€œAnyone who joins Prime shops in retail stores 10 percent less, and that number will keep accelerating as Amazon adds more inventory.â€
Investors also monitor Amazonâ€™s cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, a fast-growing and profitable business that accounts for about 10 percent of revenue. Amazon leads the cloud-computing industry, but faces increasing competition from Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet Inc.
Amazon is expected to post quarterly revenue of $37.2 billion, a 22 percent jump from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and earnings per share of $1.42.
Bezos, 53, owns about 17 percent of Seattle-based Amazon, which has surged 40 percent this year through Wednesday, helping to add $24.5 billion to his net worth. He started 2017 as the worldâ€™s fourth-wealthiest person and has since surpassed Warren Buffett and Inditex SA founder Amancio Ortega, 81, who ranks third with $82.7 billion.