Apple’s next growth opportunity. Disney+ added more subscribers while raising prices. ESPN+ achieved its FY2024 target

Corporate & Commercial – Apple’s next growth opportunity

Apple has always been a household consumer brand. There are still areas that the company can explore in the consumer space to fuel growth such as the global availability of their services, next generation chips, the AR glass or the long waited yet mysterious Apple Car. I remain excited about Apple’s growth prospect as a consumer staple, but Apple may be more than that in the future. There are signs lately that Apple may make a push into the corporate segment. First, it launched Apple Business Essentials, a device management service for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The program is still in early days, but the company already said that thousands of small businesses already participated in the program. That’s Apple’s style: choose to come to the market when a service or product is ready and deploy consistent incrementalism over time. Remember how some ridiculed their introduction of Wearables, which is now their 3rd largest business? And if they manage to build that muscle and processes to deal with small businesses, there is no reason not to think that they can expand their market and go further upstream.

Then on the earnings call, Luca Maestri (Apple’s CFO) revealed this anecdote:

Shopify, for example, is upgrading its entire global workforce to M1-powered MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. By standardizing on M1 Max, Shopify continues its commitment to providing the best tools to help its employees work productively and securely from anywhere. And Deloitte Consulting is expanding the deployment of the Mac Employee Choice program, including offering the new M1 MacBook Pro to empower their professionals to choose devices that work best for them in delivering consulting services.

Source: fool.com

I feel that M1 is the last puzzle piece that Apple needed to start making moves in the corporate market. The chip makes Apple devices more powerful and efficient, exactly what the white-collar folks like myself want and opposite of what we are used to (like all those bulky and burning Dell computers). As employees like Apple’s products, companies are more incentivized to offer such products as perks to retain talent; which plays into Apple’s hands. In the past, whether Apple’s products were the clear winners might be up for debate, but the introduction of their in-house chip put the question to rest.

This week, Apple revealed that future iOS updates would let merchants accept transactions with just a tap on their iPhones. The value chain analysis or how exactly this would benefit Apple are still question marks. I suspect Apple will take a small cut on every transaction like they do with Apple Pay transactions. Also, if merchants rely on an iPhone as a card reader, Apple Business Essentials will suddenly become an appeal so that they can manage their devices properly. These are just two early signs of what Apple can put together for businesses. I am eager to learn what they have in store because I am almost confident that they have a roadmap in mind already.

Disney+ and ESPN+ added more subscribers while raising prices. ESPN+ achieved its FY2024 target

The first quarter of FY2022 was a good one for Disney as the company continued to add more subscribers to its flagship streamer Disney+ outside of India and ESPN+ while increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). The testament to the strength of a product or service lies in the ability to retain customers while raising prices. In that sense, Disney+ has so far defied critics and proven its mettle, showing that its streaming services are capable of challenging anyone else in this highly competitive market. The iconic company set the long term target of 230-260 million Disney+ subscribers by the end of FY2024. There are 8 more quarters to go. To attain that target, Disney needs to deliver a quarterly net add of at least 13 million subscribers. The company is on the right track to do so. In fact, the management said that even without the rights to Indian Premier League, the nation’s cricket competition that is arguably the biggest acquisition tool in the Indian market, it is still confident of meeting the FY2024 guide.

If you look at India, we’re certainly going to try to extend our rights on the IPL. But we’revery confident that even if we were not to go ahead and win that auction that we would still be able to achieve our 230 million to260 million. So it’s an important component for us around the world. Obviously, really important in India, but not critical to us achieving the 230 million to 260 million number that we’ve guided to.

Source: Walt Disney Q1 FY2022 Earnings Call

While Disney+ added more subscribers in the US and Canada than Netflix in the last few quarters, I don’t think that any comparison can be fair. The two streamers are operating at a different scale and life stages. Netflix is much more established and has a much bigger subscriber base. Hence, even though it added fewer customers, we shouldn’t draw any conclusion yet on either.

ESPN+ already achieved the FY2024 guide of 20-30 million subscribers. Its tally at the end of Q1 FY2022 is already 21.4 million. I am sure with an imminent international expansion and addition of rights to more sports, ESPN+ will attain the higher end of the guide range, if not exceed it.

Disney+ North America net add subscribers and ARPU
Disney+ excluding Hotstar net add subscribers and ARPU
ESPN+ net add subscribers and ARPU

Amazon’s financials through charts

Amazon is the last of the big techs to report earnings. You can find its press release here. I’ll show my notes through the charts below. In short, AWS, advertising and Prime’s price hike are the only bright spots while the rest could be best characterized as concerning, if not downright disappointing. Of course, Amazon is famously playing the long game, but as FCF is significantly down while ex-AWS revenue is tremendously down, management needs to send some positive signals soon.

Revenue’s growth decelerated significantly after being boosted by Covid

Amazon's revenue and growth

International sales dipped for the first time while AWS continues its hot streak, recording more than $62 billion in revenue in 2021

North America, International and AWS revenue

Both North America and International were in the red in Q4 FY2021. AWS is the sole reason why Amazon has a positive operating margin

Amazon's operating income

North America and International have seen decreasing growth for the last three quarters. International even contracted in Q4 FY2021. AWS is impressive

North America, International and AWS's YoY revenue growth

Online Stores contracted modestly in Q4 FY2021

Amazon's business segments YoY growth

Negative TTM Free Cash Flow

Amazon Trailing Twelve Month FCF

Amazon spent $72 billion in shipping costs in 2021. It crossed $20 billion a quarter mark in Q4 2021

Amazon's shipping costs

Amazon spent more than $13 billion in Video and Music expenses

Amazon's video & music expense

Apple’s financials through charts

Apple revealed a stunning quarter last Thursday, surprising analysts and, in my opinion, even themselves. You can listen to the earnings call and read the 10Q here. I am putting the numbers in perspective through the charts below. If you find my work useful and informative, I’ll appreciate a thumb up or a follow. Have a nice weekend!

Apple had about $124 billion in Q1 FY2022. If we look at the last four quarters, it generated $94 billion a quarter, higher than most Fortune 500 companies did in 2021

Services has got a lot of attention due to its explosive growth, but Product and iPhone in particular are still the main revenue drivers

Both Product and Services’ gross margins have been increasing in the last 2 years. Services’ margin is an astonishing 72%

Wearables is now Apple’s 3rd biggest business

Wearables and Services have grown every quarter YoY since 2018

Apple is back in China

Japan, Apple’s smallest geographic segment, has an astounding operating margin of 47%

Apple’s users are increasingly engaged within the ecosystem

Direct channels have made up 1/3 of Apple’s business in the last three years

Disclaimer: I own Apple stocks in my portfolio

Microsoft through charts

On Tuesday, Microsoft was the first big tech giant to report financial performance and they didn’t disappoint. They surpassed the market estimates on both top and bottom lines, as well as provided strong guidance. You can read an overview of the earnings call here. In this post, I’ll look at Microsoft the business through some charts that I hope will be helpful and informative to you.

Microsoft’s annualized revenue is now $185 billion at 20% growth!

Microsoft revenue

It’s highly profitable at 43% operating margin. Its annualized operating income stands at $80 billion

Microsoft's operating income and margin

All three primary business segments have 2-digit YoY revenue growth

Microsoft's main businesses growth

Azure and Cloud attract a lot of attention, but it’s Office and other productivity products that top operating margin

Microsoft's main businesses margin

Cloud is on fire. LinkedIn & Search surpassed the $10 billion mark in annualized revenue. Gaming, the 4th largest business, now has a $20 billion run rate

Microsoft's business lines revenue

Microsoft 365 has 57 million active users though growth is slowing due to the law of big numbers

Microsoft 365 subscriber

Azure’s growth is declining due to its size

Azure YoY revenue growth

LinkedIn quietly increases its active user base every quarter. Enterprise Mobility, Microsoft’s security package, also sees consistent growth

LinkedIn active users and Enterprise Mobility seats

Microsoft Teams sees an increasing adoption among corporations

Microsoft Teams sees an increasing adoption among corporations

Disclaimer: I own Microsoft stocks in my personal portfolio

Uber lags behind DoorDash in the U.S. Uber advertisers made up 18% of its merchants

Uber Eats in the U.S accounts for 23% of its total Gross Bookings. Still far behind DoorDash

To prove that it’s a valuable partner for merchants, Uber commissioned what they call Uber Merchant Impact Report. This report is based on internal data between October 2020 and September 2021, as well as an online survey of 727 U.S merchants whose response is anonymous. According to Uber, there are 400,000 active Eats merchants in the U.S alone. Hence, the number of surveyed responders (727) doesn’t seem very representative to me. Nonetheless, the report does have some useful nuggets.

In the last twelve months, Uber Eats facilitated $11 billion in “sales” for merchants in the U.S. The word “sales” here is tricky as I don’t know for sure whether it is Gross Bookings or what merchants actually receive after Uber gets its cut. The difference can be in the region of 25%. In this case, if we assume that the figure is Gross Bookings, it means that Uber Eats in the U.S was responsible for 23% of the company’s total Delivery Gross Bookings (approximately $48 billion) in the last year. Quite a significant piece of the business. However, it still lags quite far behind almost $40 billion in Gross Bookings that DoorDash recorded in the U.S in the same time frame.

Additionally, Delivery has 400,000 active merchants and 2 million active drivers in the U.S at the end of September 2021. In the past year, these merchants and drivers helped facilitate more than 500 million Eats orders. In contrast, DoorDash, if we assume all their Operating metrics are U.S alone, has 500,00 active merchants, 3 million active riders and almost 1.3 billion orders.

Uber Eats/DeliveryDoorDash
Gross Bookings between Oct 2020 and Sep 2021 (in $ billion)11 – 13.7540
Orders between Oct 2020 and Sep 2021 (in millions)5001,300
Active merchants as of end of Sep 2021 (in thousands)400500
Active drivers as of end of Sep 2021 (in thousands)2,0003,000
Comparison of operating metrics for the U.S market

Uber advertising is growing

Uber advertising was first launched in the U.S in Q3 2020, has since expanded to all Eats markets, exceptGermany, and has been seemingly well-received by merchants. The number of active advertising merchants grew from 30,000 in Q3 2020 to 140,000 a year later. As share of total active merchants, advertisers made up 5% and 18% in Q3 2020 and Q3 2021 respectively.

While the growth figures look good, I have a couple of concerns over this advertising business. The first is its outlook. We obviously can’t expect 100% of merchants to become advertisers. If 18% is the adoption rate right now, how much higher can it go? 25% or 50%? In that case, what would be the ramifications of having too many advertisers and too many sponsored listings on an app? We all feel annoyed with Google searched result pages littered with ads. If Uber is not careful, it will risk losing valuable consumers because of inferior customer experience. That’d be too high a price to pay, I’d say.

The second concern I have is whether this segment can actually move the needle. Uber revealed that advertising reached an annualized run-rate of $100 million in Q3 2021. Whether this number was annualized on a weekly or daily basis is unclear; which makes it impossible to really gauge how much revenue Uber actually generated from advertising. Additionally, even the annualized run-rate of $100 million is a drop in a bucket as Uber’s last 12 months’ revenue was almost $15 billion. Is advertising dollars helpful? Yes. Will it be a needle mover soon? I doubt it.

Netflix raised prices – Bullish or bearish?

If you live in the U.S and are planning to subscribe to Netflix, get ready to pay more. The company announced a few days ago that all plans for audience in the U.S would see a price bump with immediate effect. The basic plan will increase from $8 to $9 per month. The standard and the 4K package will cost new subscribers $15.5 and $20 per month respectively. The Verge has a handy table showing all the hike prices that Netflix rolled out so far:

Netflix's price hikes in the past
Figure 1 – Netflix’s price hikes in the past. Source: The Verge

After the news broke, I saw a lot of people on Twitter bullish about Netflix’s outlook. The rationale is simple: if your customers are sticking with you AFTER you raise prices, it means you have a great business. The key underlying assumption is that Netflix viewers won’t churn or, in other words, leave. To back up this assumption, these bulls provided a chart from Antenna which allegedly shows Netflix has the lowest churn among premium streamers.

Netflix's alleged churn rate against competitors'
Figure 2: Netflix’s alleged churn rate against competitors’. Source: Antenna

The problem is that when your entire thesis is based on a chart, you have to make sure the data is trustworthy. Unfortunately, I find Antenna’s data confusing and ambiguous for three reasons. The first reason is that there is no methodology or explanation of how they acquired this data. Take the churn chart above as an example. What does weighted average churn rate mean? What is churn weighted against? What does passive churn mean? Did they survey users or did they base this chart on credit card usage data? If it’s survey-based, how big is the survey pool and is it representative of the U.S? Plenty of questions with zero answer.

Furthermore, Antenna’s charts seem to contradict one another. While they indicate that Netflix has the most loyalty among streamers, somehow Netflix’s market share in terms of subscribers has been declining for the past few quarters. How does that happen? If Netflix’s churn was lower than that of its competitors, the company’s market share should stay the same at the very least or go up. Some may argue that Antenna may favor other streamers in a sense that if one person subscribes to both Netflix and another service, the other service will claim this subscription. Well, this argument brings us back to my first issue mentioned above: no methodology! How do we know if this argument is true?

The last issue I have with Antenna is the inconsistency of the reported data. In Q2 2021, Antenna claimed that Netflix has a market share of 29% (Figure 4). However, in their latest report for Q3 2021, Netflix’s share declined to 30% from 32% in Q2 2021 (Figure 5) . The two reports seemingly have the same methodology and feature the same number of streamers as well as the composition. My question is: what changed? How did Netflix’s Q2 2021 share go to 29% in one report to 32% in another?

These issues really call into question the assumption that Netflix’s churn is lower than its competitors.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Antenna data is correct. That also means Netflix’s market share has been declining gradually. The 4-quarter rolling average net adds for US and Canada has gone down significantly since Q4 2020. Yes, Covid-19 pulled forward subscribers, but that also signals as many in the U.S are vaccinated, the macro environment is no longer favorable to Netflix as it was at the onset of the pandemic. When the number of new adds decreased despite all new releases in 2021, why does management think it’s a good idea to raise prices? Do they have any tricks up their sleeve? Or is the new price hike aimed at increasing revenue with the hope that subscribers will stay regardless?

I don’t know at this point whether this is a good strategic move for Netflix. I guess we’ll have more information this Thursday when they hold their earnings call. What I do know is that I don’t share the bullishness that many fans of Netflix stocks quickly showed after the price hike was announced. We just don’t have enough reliable information.

Netflix's 4-quarter rolling average net subscriber adds for U.S and Canada
Figure 3: Netflix’s 4-quarter rolling average net subscriber adds for U.S and Canada
Figure 4: U.S Premium SVOD Share of Subscriptions. Source: Antenna
Figure 4: U.S Premium SVOD Share of Subscriptions. Source: Antenna

Square Online’s on-demand delivery

On Wednesday 1/12/2021, Square announced a new partnership that will enable Square Online orders in Canada to be delivered by DoorDash Drive. The new service in Canada is an extension of what Square launched in the U.S before. This is how it works: after a Square Online merchant receives an order, a DoorDash/Uber Eats courier (depending on whether you live in the U.S or Canada) will come to the merchant’s location, pick up the order and bring it to the customer. The customer can track the order through a link sent in a text message by Square. All orders with on-demand delivery will be commission-free. For every order, merchants will only pay a dispatch fee of $1.5 and a processing fee of $3.6 to Square.

Square on-demand delivery
Square on-demand delivery. Source: Square

At a closer look, the service is interesting to me. The sales pitch merchants will hear is very simple: work with us, become our merchant and you won’t have to waste valuable dollars on delivery staff or those expensive marketplaces with high commissions. A saving of $11 on every $50 order is highly attractive, but it’s not the whole story for merchants. Even though Square Online is free, anyone serious about operating a business will certainly need to upgrade to a higher tier. Who wants to build a brand with a “square.site” in their domain? Even a nobody like myself tries to secure a custom domain. To use a custom URL, merchants need at least a Professional plan at $12/month. Additionally, merchants can only enable PayPal checkout, product reviews or gift options with a Performance plan, which costs $26/month. Want advanced eCommerce stats regarding product performance or sales trend? Pay $72/month for the highest tier then. For Square, this means high-margin & recurring subscription revenue. For merchants, they need to think about what they may get themselves into.

Merchants must also be aware that using this on-demand delivery service with Square is different from being on Uber or DoorDash app. These marketplace apps are household names and likely bring more sales. That’s their primary value proposition. That’s how they can charge a commission of 30% per order. Since orders must be from merchants’ online stores, the task of generating sales and marketing now falls onto merchants who will have to choose between a bigger piece of a smaller pie and a smaller piece of a bigger pie. One thing that I have to say, though, is that by having customers place orders directly online, sellers can establish a precious relationship with customers, instead of ceding it to the likes of Uber or DoorDash.

Square Online pricing tiers
Square Online pricing tiers. Source: Square

What also interest me is the low dispatch fee. For every DoorDash Drive order, merchants normally pay a flat fee of $8. In this case, the dispatch fee is only $1.5. As the market leader in food delivery, DoorDash certainly has the bargaining power that they would not bend over backwards to work with Square at all costs. A drop of 81% in dispatch fees is massive, affecting DoorDash’s top and bottom line. Hence, I believe Square must compensate their partner in this agreement and make up for some of that loss. The question is: do the numbers add up for Square? It’s worth pointing out that a DoorDash Drive flat fee of $8 includes DoorDash’s standard processing fee of 2.9% + $0.3 per order. In other words, a normal $50 DoorDash Drive order will result in a processing fee of $1.75 and a dispatch fee of $6.25. A cut of $1.5 per order from Square on-demand delivery means DoorDash will lose about $4.75 per order in revenue. Let’s assume Square compensates DoorDash $3 on every order with on-demand delivery. 1,000 such orders per month (around 3 per day) for 1,000 merchants would put a dent of $3 million on Square’s financials. Square claimed to have millions of sellers. A wide adoption of this on-demand delivery service wouldn’t be financially tenable. How does Square make this work?

My hunch is that Square’s target audience for this service is small, to begin with. Any merchant wishing to use this on-demand delivery service must have a Square Online store. We can exclude medium and large-sized merchants from this population as they must already handle their online activity. Those that are in need for Square Online should be mom-and-pop or local restaurants that do not have a website or really need an upgrade and a delivery service. This market segment should be small enough for Square to offer this service and make the numbers work. I suspect that the company wants to use this offering as an opening to get these merchants to install Square POS in stores. Once Square successfully has its POS installed, the more orders merchants have, the more revenue Square generates. What intrigues me is what Square would do if merchants had too many on-demand delivery orders? Would Square terminate the service or start charging more?

This service from Square offers great benefits to small merchants and really differentiates the company from its rivals like PayPal. I don’t have access to their financials and breakdown on this specific service, but my guess is that because the target audience is very small to begin with, it won’t move the needle much. Is this a threat to Olo? I don’t think it is. Olo’s bread and butter at the moment is franchises with multiple locations. Their business doesn’t hinge on who powers merchant’s websites. What matters is that Olo offers a centralized system helping merchants deal with the likes of Uber, GrubHub and DoorDash efficiently. Square’s on-demand delivery requires that merchants have to build online presence with Square. It’s a different game.

State of Mobile 2022

App Annie released a report named State of Mobile 2022, offering a comprehensive view on the app economy around the world. The report is very informative with lots of data and I really recommend you have a look, but there are a couple of things that make me hesitant to draw any lesson:

  • Hours spent on app is only on Android devices; which doesn’t provide a complete picture of app usage as iOS is a huge ecosystem
  • I couldn’t find the definition of breakout downloads anywhere in the report. What does breakout even mean?
  • We need to be careful about the number of downloads. I suspect these downloads needed to be in 2021 to be included in this report. That means some popular apps that are on consumer phones before 2021 aren’t. Hence, the number of downloads in 2021 doesn’t paint a true picture of how popular apps are

With that being said, here are some takeaways in which I have some confidence.

Total App Spend in 2021 was $170 billion, implying iOS’ has a market share of 35-40%

App Annie estimated that the total app spend in 2021 at $170 billion. On Monday, Apple revealed that they paid $60 billion to developers in 2021 which didn’t include Apple’s commissions. If we assume that Apple takes 15% on every dollar, the total app spend on the App Store would be around $70 billion ~ 40% of the figure that App Annie reported.

Though their population isn’t too far off from each other, China had much more app downloads in 2021 than India

China has approximately 1.4 billion people in population, 20 million more than what India has. However, the number of app downloads in China easily dwarfs that in India and the rest of the world. I wonder if it’s because folks in China cycle their phones more often so that the number of downloads was high even though the number of users didn’t necessarily increase. On a side note, shout out to Vietnam with more than 3 billion downloads for a country with 97 million people.

LinkedIn was frequently searched on the App Store, signaling a vibrant job market

Zoom, Teams and LinkedIn are in the top most searched keywords on the App Store. That’s heartening for Zoom and Microsoft investors because this signals their brand awareness among users. The fact that LinkedIn is among this group signals to me that folks want to update their profile and look for job opportunities. Why else would you look for the LinkedIn app?

45% of markets where Disney+ is available have over 1 million downloads in total. The figure for Netflix is 31%

According to App Annie, there are 24 countries where the number of total downloads for Disney+ exceeded 1 million while there are 58 such countries for Netflix. However, it’s really important to remember that Disney+ is only available in 53 markets whereas Netflix can be downloaded in more than 190. Hence, you can see Disney+ tends to be really popular wherever it’s available.

Tips for new data analysts

Having worked with credit card data in the past years, I have to say that it’s a steep learning curve. My manager gave me 6 months to a year to learn what we do in our day job and he wasn’t exaggerating. I actually needed that. Even now, more than 3 years later, I still learn something new every day. The complexity and the sheer amount of data is just staggering. Our warehouse has to store data of an account on a daily basis for as long as the account is active. And an account’s life can consist of numerous interactions from applications, special offers, purchases, fees, payments to calls, mobile logins or complaints. Everything can and should be analyzed so that we can learn actionable insights that can benefit the organization.

After a tough period when I put in the work to survive, I want to share a few things that have helped me tremendously become a better analyst and programmer. My experience is with credit card data. I don’t mean to think that what I do is more complex than others, but I believe the lessons I learned can be helpful in other industries.

Learn to connect the business and the data together

At my company, the better analysts and coders often have a better understanding of the business than others. They don’t take data on face value. They use data to answer business questions and, in turn, use their business knowledge to understand data better. For example, credit cards draw much of its revenue from finance charge. However, issuers tend to appeal to potential users with an intro offer that sets interest rate at 0% for a period of time (6 all the way up to 20 months). Without that understanding, how can one understand the revenue data before and after the grace period?

Likewise, data can help issuers answer business questions. In case you don’t know, credit card companies work with the likes of Experian, TransUnion and Equifax closely for acquisition campaigns. These credit bureaus know a lot about consumers in the U.S and each has a database that can be licensed out to issuers. Issuers go through a bureau’s database and choose a population based on a variety of attributes that they believe will be most responsive to direct mail campaigns. Through post-campaign analyses, issuers learn which attributes are more predictive than others. Hence, they can become more efficient with direct mail campaigns. Let’s say that if a campaign with a 1 million pieces worth $0.5 each yields about 5,000 accounts (0.5% net response rate), each account will cost about $100 in acquisition. By using data and improving the net response rate to 0.6%, an issuer can decrease that acquisition cost to $83. That’s a real financial benefit. That’s the power of analyzing data for actionable insights.

Look at the output

A common mistake I noticed among my coworkers is that those more prone to mistakes don’t often look at the real data output. There are two reasons for it. The first is complacency. After a decent amount of time on the job, a certain level of complacency tends to develop in each analyst. Such complacency creates a false illusion that one knows everything already, while, in fact, that is often far from the truth, particularly when complex data is involved. The second reason why less effective analysts don’t look at real data output is the false assumption that their previous work will continue to deliver forever in the future. Such an assumption ignores the fact that businesses evolve all the time and when that happens, the data evolves too, such as new partners, new products, new regulations or new acquisition channels. Assuming that an old block of code will work one or two years from now is a mistake, yet luckily it’s entirely avoidable!

Find outliers

Banking data is structured most of the time. There are business rules behind the scenes that dictate how values are set. As a result, it’s very helpful to look at outliers because it will reinforce an analyst’s understanding of not only the data, but also such business rules. Let me give you an example. A co-brand portfolio of ours mandates that a customer has to maintain a specific level of spending in a calendar year to keep their Premium status. One time, I noticed that some accounts didn’t meet the threshold, yet still managed to keep their status the following year. I asked around and learned that there was a policy which enabled customers who just missed the cut to qualify for the status only if they called our Customer Care. Without paying attention to outliers, I wouldn’t be able to learn about that policy. And how did I notice those outliers? Indeed, I looked at my data output!

Read about the industry

I always believe that our understanding of the world is a network of dots and how we are able to link them together. The more we read, the more dots we add to our personal network and the better connections we can create. Without reading, there wouldn’t be many dots to connect, to begin with. Plus, the world is full of smart people who are often smarter than us. Why not taking advantage of that? We can learn so much about the trends, best practices as well as mistakes from others and apply appropriately to our business. In fact, we just launched a new credit card and I am proud to say that came from an idea of mine, an idea that was born out of regular studying of the competition and the market. So, if you want to be a better analyst, read. Read about your competition, your customers, your industry and adjacent industries too. Dig as deep as your interest allows you. Read from the basic. For instance, if you want to know about credit card transactions, read this helpful but obscure book: The Anatomy of The Swipe! The more you get to the basics, the better you can grasp more complex concepts!

Stay curious

The overarching theme over the points I make above is curiosity. As long as you stay curious, you are automatically intrigued by the questions like: How does this work? Do I miss something? Is what people told me 100% accurate? Did they miss something themselves? These questions will drive you to dig deeper and constantly ask questions; which will eventually lead you to doing all of the above and becoming an analyst.

If you come across this entry, I hope what I share above is helpful and can prevent you from making the same mistakes that I did. Leave in the comment if you have any thoughts or tips as well!

Amazon through charts

Amazon’s revenue growth slowed down significantly in the last 6 months after being pulled forward by Covid-19; which may explain the timid growth of their stock price

Amazon's revenue growth

AWS is now a $56 billion annual run-rate business. This run-rate is actually based on real figures

Quarterly revenue of Norther America, International and AWS

AWS continues to be the margin machine for Amazon. International went back to the red after 5 quarters in the black

Segment and total operating margin

Advertising is Amazon’s 4th biggest revenue stream

Amazon's business segments' revenue

Advertising, AWS and Subscriptions are the top 3 growing segments of the company

Segments' revenue growth

Amazon has been investing heavily in the last 6 months, hurting their Free Cash Flow

Amazon's free cash flow trailing twelve months

Shipping costs as % of Online Stores & 3rd-party Marketplace have been increasing. The shipping cost can make it difficult for competition to catch up

Amazon's shipping costs