Why Amazon stock fell today

A competitor's troubles portend a challenging holiday shopping season for the e-commerce giant.

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This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

What happened

Shares of Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) declined on Wednesday after rival retailer Target (NYSE: TGT) reported a steep decline in profits. By the close of trading, Amazon's stock price was down 1.8% after falling as much as 3.4% earlier in the day.

So what

Target was forced to issue heavy discounts to clear out excess inventory. That weighed heavily on the discount retail chain's profitability. Its gross and operating margins fell to 24.7% and 3.9%, respectively, in the third quarter, from 28% and 7.8% in the prior-year period. Target's earnings per share (EPS), in turn, plunged 49% year over year to $1.54.

The retailer's guidance was even more alarming to investors. Target now projects "a low-low-single digit decline" in same-store sales. Management also expects the company's operating margin to decline further, to 3%.

"In the latter weeks of the quarter, sales and profit trends softened meaningfully, with guests' shopping behavior increasingly impacted by inflation, rising interest rates, and economic uncertainty," CEO Brian Cornell said in a press release.

Worse still, chief financial officer Michael Fiddelke said during a conference call with analysts that the downturn could persist into 2023.

"As we look beyond the holiday season, we're planning for a continued challenging environment as we move into next year," Fiddelke said. 

Now what

Target's troubles are also worrisome for Amazon's shareholders. A further decline in consumer discretionary spending could dent the e-commerce titan's sales and profits, which are already under pressure from inflation concerns and recession fears.

Amazon's actions suggest it is bracing for such a scenario. The company is slashing costs in its massive fulfillment network and scaling back on unprofitable projects as it works to bolster its sagging profitability.

This article was originally published on Fool.com. All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Joe Tenebruso has the following options: long January 2024 $100 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Amazon and Target. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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