Amazon is reaching new heights on Wall Street while attempting to boost its entertainment presence. The tech giant hit $2,000 per share for the first time today. Amazon would become the second company — only behind Apple — to top $1 trillion in market cap if the stock rises to at least $2,050.27.
The news comes as Amazon is cutting deals with two smaller studios while working toward an ad-supported streaming service as well as its own DVR service. Jennifer Salke, who touted the company’s original programming including Golden Globe-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as well as Jack Ryan, the action series debuting this week, said at the TV Critics Association gatherings this month that the company is spending $4.5 billion on programming this year.
Amazon will also be revamping its quickly-growing live-streaming site Twitch, including ads being shown to subscribers. “As we have continued to add value to Twitch Prime, we have also re-evaluated some of the existing Twitch Prime benefits. As a result, universal ad-free viewing will no longer be part of Twitch Prime for new members, starting on September 14,” according to Amazon’s Twitch website.
The efforts by Amazon represent a challenge to the dominance of Netflix, but also suggest its entertainment ambitions go beyond competing with the largest online streaming service or providing eye-catching perks for Prime subscribers who mainly signed up to enjoy the free two-day shipping.
Streaming from devices like the Amazon Fire stick, Apple TV and Roku are continuing to grow throughout the industry, leaving traditional cable-TV providers with fewer customers. Amazon noticed this and created the DVR service, which would enable people who are watching traditional live and linear programming to record shows for playback later, similar to cable-TV providers such as Cox and DIRECTV. On-demand Prime programming will not require a DVR but could be major component of it. According to Forbes, it’s easy to “Build Your Own Box” of services while perhaps ditching the traditional cable-TV completely.
The reported code-name of the DVR, Frank, will provide Amazon the functionality to compete with traditional cable provider such as Comcast and Charter/Spectrum as well as “skinny bundle” providers such as YouTube TV.
Thanks to Amazon’s announcement of streaming plans, a record high came a day after the stock gained 3.2 percent, sparked by a bullish call by Morgan Stanley. “We have increasing confidence that Amazon’s rapidly growing, increasingly large, high margin revenue streams (advertising, AWS, subscriptions) will drive higher profitability and continued upward estimate revisions,” analyst Brian Nowak said in a note to clients Wednesday.
Analysts at the bank raised its 12-month price target on Amazon to $2,500 from $1,850. The increased target prices makes it the highest on Wall Street, implying a 25.1 percent upside from Wednesday’s close. The company’s share more than doubled over the past twelve months, according to CNBC, and are now on a fast-pace this year, surging 70.9 percent through Wednesday’s close.