To get a sense of who is truly in control of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), it is important to understand the ownership structure of the business. The group holding the most number of shares in the company, around 59% to be precise, is institutions. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).
Since institutional have access to huge amounts of capital, their market moves tend to receive a lot of scrutiny by retail or individual investors. Hence, having a considerable amount of institutional money invested in a company is often regarded as a desirable trait.
In the chart below, we zoom in on the different ownership groups of Amazon.com.
What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Amazon.com?
Many institutions measure their performance against an index that approximates the local market. So they usually pay more attention to companies that are included in major indices.
As you can see, institutional investors have a fair amount of stake in Amazon.com. This suggests some credibility amongst professional investors. But we can't rely on that fact alone since institutions make bad investments sometimes, just like everyone does. When multiple institutions own a stock, there's always a risk that they are in a 'crowded trade'. When such a trade goes wrong, multiple parties may compete to sell stock fast. This risk is higher in a company without a history of growth. You can see Amazon.com's historic earnings and revenue below, but keep in mind there's always more to the story.
Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. Hedge funds don't have many shares in Amazon.com. Jeffrey Bezos is currently the company's largest shareholder with 9.8% of shares outstanding. Meanwhile, the second and third largest shareholders, hold 6.8% and 5.8%, of the shares outstanding, respectively.
On studying our ownership data, we found that 25 of the top shareholders collectively own less than 50% of the share register, implying that no single individual has a majority interest.
While it makes sense to study institutional ownership data for a company, it also makes sense to study analyst sentiments to know which way the wind is blowing. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.
Insider Ownership Of Amazon.com
While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. The company management answer to the board and the latter should represent the interests of shareholders. Notably, sometimes top-level managers are on the board themselves.
Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.
We can see that insiders own shares in Amazon.com, Inc.. Insiders own US$113b worth of shares (at current prices). we sometimes take an interest in whether they have been buying or selling.
General Public Ownership
The general public-- including retail investors -- own 31% stake in the company, and hence can't easily be ignored. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.
I find it very interesting to look at who exactly owns a company. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Like risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we've spotted 2 warning signs for Amazon.com (of which 1 is potentially serious!) you should know about.
If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.
NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.
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This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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