It’s prime­time at Ama­zon.com — shares hit $1,000

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - BUSINESS - BY JOSEPH PISANI

The last time Ama­zon split its stock was nearly 18 years ago, ac­cord­ing to fi­nan­cial re­search firm fac­tSet.

Ama­zon, the in­ter­net go­liath that rev­o­lu­tion­ized the way much of the world buys books, toi­let pa­per and TVs, hit a new mile­stone Tues­day. Its stock sur­passed the $1,000 mark for the first time.

That price put Ama­zon’s mar­ket value at about $478 bil­lion, dou­ble that of the world’s biggest tra­di­tional re­tailer, Wal-Mart, and more than 15 times the size of Tar­get. Al­though Ama­zon ul­ti­mately closed Tues­day at $996.70 per share — up 92 cents per share for the day but off from the in­tra­day peak — a $1,000 in­vest­ment on Ama­zon’s first day of trad­ing in 1997 would still be worth more than $500,000 to­day.

Not only has Ama­zon changed the re­tail land­scape since it be­came a pub­lic com­pany 20 years ago, it’s now part of a small cadre of high-fly­ing stocks be­long­ing to com­pa­nies that have de­fied Wall Street and shunned stock splits.

Those splits make the stock more affordable and gen­er­ate bro­ker­age fees. But com­pa­nies such as Ama­zon have cho­sen to re­ward its long-term investors.

The last time Ama­zon had split its stock was nearly 18 years ago, ac­cord­ing to fi­nan­cial re­search firm Fac­tSet.

Only four other U.S.-listed com­pa­nies have shares trad­ing above $1,000: on­line travel book­ing com­pany Price­line Group Inc., home­builder NVR Inc., pork pro­ducer and ocean trans­porta­tion com­pany Se­aboard Corp. and the

apos­tle of long-term in­vest­ing, War­ren Buf­fett, with his hold­ing com­pany Berk­shire Hath­away Inc. But stock prices tell only a part of the story.

Since launch­ing a web­site to sell mostly books in 1995, Ama­zon has trans­fig­ured re­tail, sent rev­enue num­bers to strato­spheric heights, and is among the biggest rea­sons long­time pow­er­houses like Macy’s, Bor­ders book­stores and even Ra­dioShack have suf­fered.

Those com­pa­nies are clos­ing lo­ca­tions and Ama­zon is fill­ing the void, some­times lit­er­ally.

Last week in a location once oc­cu­pied by Bor­ders, the book­store chain that went out of busi­ness in 2011, Ama­zon opened its first book­store in New York City.

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