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5 Things You Don’t Know About, Inc. (AMZN): Apple Inc. (AAPL), Netflix Inc. (NFLX)

Detailed sales figures: Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) reports its sales in (count ’em) six categories: consumer electronics, computing and phones, entertainment, appliances, services, and other. Reviewing that list, an investor can see that the retailer’s electronics sales fell hard last quarter, while appliances and phones picked up some of the slack. And yet Amazon, the world’s biggest e-tailer, splits its $61 billion of sales reporting into just three segments (media, stuff, and other stuff):

Source: Amazon’s 10-K filing.

Blast from the past
CEO Jeff Bezos made a simple promise in his 1997 letter to shareholders (and in every annual report since). He said: “We will share our strategic thought processes with you when we make bold choices (to the extent competitive pressures allow), so that you may evaluate for yourselves whether we are making rational long-term leadership investments.”

It’s true that competitive pressures are still around, just like they were back in 1997. And you could argue that some of these mysteries exist to keep rivals, not investors, in the dark. But competitive pressures should be balanced against the goal of having informed shareholders, who are treated like the business partners they are.

Amazon’s shares are trading for just under twice last year’s sales figure. That’s well more than Costco’s and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)‘s multiples, which are roughly 0.5 times sales. But Amazon has a lot more going for it than just physical retailing. Its sales multiple looks cheap compared to the ones that Apple and eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) are fetching now. Is two times sales a fair price to pay given all the strengths and risks in Amazon’s business? I don’t know.

One thing we do know is that Amazon is the king of the retail world right now. But at its sky-high valuation, most investors are worried it’s the company’s share price that will get knocked down instead of competitors’. We’ll tell you what’s driving the company’s growth, and fill you in on reasons to buy and reasons to sell Amazon in our Motley Fool premium report. We’ll also provide a full year of free analyst updates to keep you informed as the company’s story changes, so click here now to read more.

The article 5 Things You Don’t Know About Amazon originally appeared on and is written by Demitrios Kalogeropoulos.

Fool contributor Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Apple, Netflix, and Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ:COST). The Motley Fool recommends, Apple, Costco Wholesale, and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, Costco Wholesale, and Netflix.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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