Some minor chinks in Amazon.com’s formidable armor are showing themselves.
This story first appeared in the December 2, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Web merchant — which has been gobbling up market share and raked up revenues of more than $85 billion over the past 12 months — said in a regulatory filing that it plans to borrow an indeterminate amount of money to keep pushing its business forward.
Moody’s Investors Service in turn cut its outlook on the company’s “Baa1” credit rating to negative from stable.
The rating is still well in investment-grade territory and the Jeff Bezos-led e-commerce giant has long focused on heavy investments that would grow its business, rather than drive profitability.
For instance, the company just unveiled its eighth-generation fulfillment center, of which it already has 10 in the U.S. The centers feature an extensive use of robotics and vision systems that allow a trailer of inventory to be unloaded in as little as 30 minutes.
Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea said, “Proceeds [from the debt offering] are to be used for general corporate purposes in support of Amazon’s myriad growth initiatives, and it is Moody’s expectation that the funds will not be utilized for any form of shareholder returns.”
The rating agency described Amazon’s liquidity as “excellent,” a factor that helps it “overcome a presently weak overall quantitative credit profile resulting from prodigious growth-oriented spending.”
As of Sept. 30, Amazon had long-term debts of $3.1 billion and cash and cash equivalents of $5.26 billion on its books. The company’s losses for the first nine months of the year tallied $455 million.
While Amazon rules the e-commerce roost now, it has good reason to keep ahead of the competition, particularly Wal-Mart and Target, which are gunning to take back market share they lost to the company.
Moody’s noted that Amazon “is facing increased competition from brick-and-mortar retailers as they morph their successful businesses online.”