All Quiet on the Amazon Front: Amazon is one of the most highly valued, most innovative and just plain most interesting companies in the country. It is also one that places a premium on saying nothing

JANUARY 31, 2014, 7:15 AM  11 Comments

All Quiet on the Amazon Front

By DAVID STREITFELD

Amazon is one of the most exciting companies in the country, redefining retail, web hosting, publishing and a bunch of other enterprises. When it says it is merely thinking of doing something — as it did Thursday with the first-ever price increase for Amazon Prime shipping service — it makes news. It also makes news when it talks about something that it is planning to do, maybe, a bunch of years from now, in the unlikely event everything works out. Yes, we’re talking drones.

But suppose you wanted to know not about the future, but about the present or even the past. About how, for instance, Amazon’s grocery delivery service is working out in the test markets, or how many Kindles have been sold. Surely this would be the easiest thing in the world for Amazon to answer, because, you know, it’s past. Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the world, but it will readily tell you how many iPhones and iPads it is selling.

But Amazon will not tell you any of this. Every quarter, the analysts get on the phone with Tom Szkutak, the chief financial officer, and pepper him with questions. But whether it is past, present or future, Mr. Szkutak ably dodges each query. Here were his repliesThursday:

“I am sorry I can’t help you … you have to wait on that … In terms of the details, I can’t really give you a lot of color … you will have to stay tuned on that one … I can’t talk to the specifics of that … there is not a lot I can help you with there … I wouldn’t speculate what we would do or not do going forward … I wouldn’t speculate. We might or might not do in the future … if you look back at what we have done, you can’t expect that we might do [it] going forward … I wouldn’t want to speculate what they would or wouldn’t do related to pricing … it’s hard to tell, honestly. It’s hard to know … it’s very early … that’s really all I can say … I can’t comment.”

Some day, Harvard professors will teach courses in how Amazon rose from a cute little online bookstore to the largest retailer on earth without ever managing to disclose a thing. Meanwhile, don’t expect to learn any more about when Amazon will be increasing fees until it does it.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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