Amazon Owns $1 Billion Worth of Other Companies

Seattle-based online retail behemoth Inc. (AMZN) now owns $1 billion worth of stock in public and private companies, reported CNBC. The figure reflects a 60% increase from the year-ago period, a 163% gain over the same quarter two years ago and a whopping five-fold increase in value since early 2015, marking a sign that the e-commerce and cloud giant is becoming a more aggressive corporate investor alongside big tech peers like Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (AAPL). (See also: Amazon Will Be Next to Hit $1T: VC Vet Ann Winblad.)

Amazon disclosed in its latest quarterly report that it surpassed the $1 billion threshold in external investments as of the end of Q2, compared to $623 million in the year-ago period and $380 million in Q2 2016. Over half of the billion is in public company equity and equity warrants that offer Amazon the ability to purchase company stock in the future, while the other $407 million of stock comes from privately held companies.

While Amazon did not break down details of the individual investments or holdings, it has announced two investments worth approximately $400 million combined, including fuel cell energy leader Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) and air cargo provider Air Transport Services Group. The e-retailer has also participated in late-stage funding rounds for firms including voice-powered sales software company Tact and cancer detection startup Grail, which tend to be larger in size than earlier-stage rounds, as noted by CNBC. 

Comparisons to Other Firms' Investments

For comparison, tech peers Inc. (CRM) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have both made investments in public and private companies worth roughly $1 billion, according to their latest quarterly filings, while Alphabet disclosed $8.8 billion worth of stock just from privately owned companies as of the end of 2017. Amazon's booming profitability and its healthy cash flow has allowed it to buy up companies at a rapid rate, including its blockbuster purchase of Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, marking its push into the brick-and-mortar retail space. 

Shares of Amazon, down about 1.5% at $1.890.41 on Wednesday, reflects a 61.7% gain year-to-date (YTD) compared to the S&P 500's 5.2% return over the same period. (See also: How Jeff Bezos Became the World's Richest Man.)

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