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Amazon is now an unstoppable stock

A company in its prime is becoming a ‘perfect’ technology investment

Amazon.com has long been the poster child for a fast-growing but money-losing tech firm. But it might be time to rethink this view.

Amazon AMZN, +1.60% just delivered a smashing earnings report last week, its second in a row. Although the profits were meager at just $79 million, or 17 cents a share, analysts were expecting Amazon to run in the red last quarter as it has so many times before. The top line was equally impressive, as sales soared 23% to $25.4 billion, trouncing forecasts.

But the reason to like Amazon doesn’t involve just these past two earnings beats, or the 60%-plus head of steam that shares have built since April.

The real reason to be a believer in Amazon stock is that the company is increasingly becoming the perfect technology stock, validating the bulls and turning away the arguments of the bears at every turn.

Here are just points in favor of Amazon, even after its stock has near-doubled so far in 2015:

1. AWS is for real: It’s hard to overstate the influence of Amazon Web Services, the fast-growing cloud computing arm of Amazon, in this recent bull run. Numbers have been consistently impressive, with the most recent quarterfeaturing $2.09 billion in sales over $1.17 billion in the previous period for 79% year-over-year growth. The icing on the cake was an amazing operating profit of $521 million for the segment — neck-and-neck with the $528 million in operating income from North America e-commerce. With numbers like these, it’s impossible look at AWS and not get excited.

2. Amazon gets serious about Wall Street: Cynics will say Jeff Bezos & Co. only offered up info on Amazon Web Services because they knew numbers would impress — but that in itself is a marked change from the Amazon of old, which could care less about what investors thought. Taken in conjunction with recent moves to wind down ill-advised hardware efforts including the Fire Phone — a project which, by many reports, was close to the heart of Bezos himself — it is reasonable to think Amazon is getting serious about how Wall Street views the company. That’s ultimately a plus for investors, to whom market sentiment is quite important.

3. Margins are material: Along the same lines, Amazon seems committed to profitability — and not just because we saw two quarters in a row of operations in the black. Details show gross margins are a big focus lately, and profits are moving higher as a result. Take the all-important AWS segment, which even in its early life is seeing brisk margin expansion and not just top-line growth; operating margins were 25.0% based on third-quarter numbers vs. 21.4% in the second quarter, and just 8.4% gross margins a year prior. North American e-commerce did see margins slip sequentially from 5.1% in the second quarter to 3.5% in the third quarter, but profitability alone is impressive when compared with the operating loss for this segment a year ago.

4. Amazon is optimistic: If Amazon can recreate these positive e-commerce margins in the all-important holiday quarter and marry that with yet another increase in AWS profitability, it’s off to the races. And that’s the biggest reason to be bullish of all, given that guidance for the fourth quarter was strong and the company is optimistic about the current quarter. Specifically, Amazon predicted sales of $33.5 billion to $36.75 billion, up between 14% and 25% from last year, while operating income was given a wide range, from $80 million to $1.28 billion, compared to $591 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Not only were those in line with or above previous estimates, but it’s worth noting that Amazon tends to hit the higher end of its ranges — particularly lately. Hitting or surpassing those ambitious targets would be a big deal.

5. Few growth options: At the end of the day, the recent profitability and buzz about AWS validates what has long been the bull case for Amazon — namely, that this is a tech powerhouse that will be a big part of how the economy of the future works. That statement was appealing in previous years, but it’s particularly important to investors in 2015 as broader earnings remain challenged and there is increased talk of a coming recession in the U.S. that will weigh down many stocks. With so few growth options out there, investors are willing to pay a premium for growth, which ultimately means more buying sentiment for Amazon versus other stocks.

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