Thursday, November 21, 2013

Free cash flow

"Here’s what else you may not realize: while Amazon may be earning little-to-no profit each quarter, they continue to bring in money that they can actually use. How? As former Amazon employee Eugene Wei explained last year:

Almost all customers paid by credit card, so Amazon would receive payment in a day. But they didn’t pay the average distributor or publisher for 90 days for books they purchased. This gave Amazon a magical financial quality called a negative operating cycle. With every book sale, Amazon got cash it could hang on to for up weeks on end (in practice it wasn’t actually 89 days of float since Amazon did purchase some high velocity selling books ahead of time). The more Amazon grew, the more cash it banked. Amazon was turning its inventory 30, 40 times a year, whereas companies like Barnes and Noble were sweating to turn their inventory twice a year. Most people just look at a company’s margins and judge the quality of the business model based on that, but the cash flow characteristics of the business can make one company a far more valuable company than another with the exact same operating margin. Amazon could have had a margin of zero and still made money.

Forget profit, the emphasis has been on free cash flow.

And so I repeat, Bezos is a genius. He’s flying under-the-radar until he can buy the radar. And probably the company that makes all the radars as well. With Amazon, it’s not “now or never”, it’s “next”."

While We’re Trying To Follow His Game Of Checkers, Jeff Bezos Is Playing Chess - Amazon

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