Gaga Over Amazon’s Blockbuster Earnings Report

Amazon Readies Kindle Fire Update to Keep Up With Apple, Google

Shares of Inc. spiked in the after-hours session on Thursday, with the firm reporting a surprising third-quarter profit on better than anticipated sales.

The more than double-digit gains propelled Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of the e-commerce and cloud computing company, to third on the list of America’s richest people.

The strength of Amazon’s quarterly results can be judged not only by the jump in Bezos’ net worth, but also by the effusive praise these numbers inspired.

Commentary from analysts show that they believe the company’s performance and growth prospects are robust, as well as increased faith that Bezos’ intense expansion plans, which crimped on profitability in the past, will continue to bear fruit going forward:

Morgan Stanley‘s Brian Nowak (Overweight, Price target to $750 from $740)

Amazon’s 3Q results reinforce our view that the company’s business is inflecting around the globe as YoY ex FX revenue growth in all 4 of its main retail segments accelerated…for the 3rd straight quarter. Retail gross profit dollars per customer – which we view as a proxy for retail same store sales – accelerated to 27% growth…the fastest growth in company history and 2.5X higher than the long-term ~11% average rate… In effect, we see AMZN’s accelerating SSS growth leading to a period of sustained, rising profitability.

Stifel‘s Scott Devitt (Buy, Price target to $750 from $700)

Winning in All Facets of the Game. We believe the company has emerged from its recent investment cycle well-positioned to extend its competitive advantages through the Prime platform, enhanced logistics and AWS services. The rapid adoption in Prime membership has been a boost to NA retail and is in the early stages of driving international retail… Overall we believe this quarter’s results indicate that Amazon has reached a critical level of scale which allows it to build a robust global ecosystem while maintaining profitable top-line growth.

Goldman Sachs‘ Heath Terry (Buy, Price target to $760 from $680)

We believe this quarter is further evidence that Amazon’s investment in infrastructure, logistics, and web services is accelerating market share gains, cash flow growth, and continued high returns on invested capital.

Nomura‘s Robert Drbul (Buy, Price target $700)

We do not expect investment spending to abate, especially in Prime and AWS, but believe the company has proven that profits can be realized regardless. We expect AMZN to simultaneously focus on cost reduction and efficiency, and believe that continued strong revenue growth (~20% in FY15-17) will support the profit equation.

Barclays‘ Paul Vogel (Overweight, Price target $700)

Although margin outperformance was the center of attention, Amazon’s core retail business out performed expectations as well, led by continuing acceleration of International revenue and aided by Prime. Both North American and International EGM growth, on an fxneutral basis, have accelerated in each quarter this year, with EGM now comprising 79% of North American Revenues and 71% of International Revenues.

Jefferies‘ Brian Pitz (Buy, Price target $730)

After speculation for about 1.5 years that Amazon might in-source last-mile fulfillment, it seems the company is getting serious about this. According to media reports, Amazon has hired an executive search firm to build a management team to lead the effort. We believe this is Amazon’s next major step in its evolving fulfillment strategy which is focused on reducing friction for shoppers by offering better selection, product availability, & high service levels…As the company enables a mix of all these expedited delivery services into the top 50 US markets, traditional retailers with slower and more expensive shipping options should be feeling increasing pressure and start losing market share.

Raymond James‘ Aaron Kessler (Strong buy, Price target to $745 from $640)

Amazon reported strong 3Q revenues driven by accelerating retail sales (in part driven by Prime Day) and continued AWS outperformance (78% y/y). Additionally, Amazon continued to see significantly improved margins for North America retail and AWS (non-GAAP OM increased ~400 bp y/y ). Given the strength, we are increasing our 2015/2016 non-GAAP operating income by ~11/6% and believe estimates could prove conservative.

Macquarie‘s Ben Schachter (Outperform, Price target to $740 from from $660)

The bottom line is that AMZN continues to deliver against the long-term bull thesis: increasing share, rising margins. Finally, something notable this earnings season thus far is that EBAY, AMZN, and GOOG have all highlighted growth in India (AMZN has tripled fulfilment capacity y/y). While not quantified, these companies are all seeing an uptick meaningful enough to highlight.

Deutsche Bank‘s Ross Sandler (Buy, Price target to $725 from $665)

Retail is charging into 4Q with 75m+ prime members globally (DB est). We think shares can drift higher in the near-term, but admittedly are due a breather as margins level out a bit in 2016, which we don’t think will come as a surprise…Try as we might, we struggle finding anything to nitpick. The obvious point would be that 4Q guidance was below Consensus, but this was largely expected by the buy side.

Moving your money offshore ? Read


Amazon Woos EBay’s Once-Loyal Merchants With Faster Sales Growth



EBay Inc.’s once-loyal merchants are moving more of their business to Inc., saying they get more for their money by selling merchandise via the Web retailer.

Amazon’s pool of merchants doubled to about 2 million in 2014, while the number of sellers on EBay has remained flat at 25 million in the past two years. Businesses that at first set up online storefronts on EBay say they’re surprised how quickly sales surge on Amazon once products appear on both sites.

The move to Amazon, which boasts a bigger user base and offers more ways to ship merchandise, poses a threat to EBay, which pioneered the idea of an Internet marketplace where merchants big and small could hawk wares.

“We saw sales drop 10 percent on EBay and gain 10 percent on Amazon,” said Chance Knapp, chief executive officer of Vivo Technology, a laptop parts and accessories business, about a few product lines he moved last year. “It was like customers were actually shifting from EBay to Amazon.”

EBay is already under pressure, chalking up lackluster holiday-quarter sales and suffering a marketplace traffic slowdown that CEO John Donahoe blamed on changes in the way Google Inc. handles shopping-search results. EBay is spinning off its PayPal division this year after pressure from activist investor Carl Icahn, who lamented sluggish gains in the online shopping division.

Competitive Edge

Moving storefronts doesn’t come cheap. Amazon charges a premium for its logistics services, which include storage, packaging and ensuring products are shipped in a timely manner. Both companies have complex price formulas that vary by product category. While EBay typically charges about 10 percent of each item’s final sale price, Amazon takes 15 percent in most cases, with additional fees for optional storage and packaging.

Many sellers say Amazon is worth the extra expense to achieve greater sales volumes and that it’s cheaper to let Amazon handle logistics than do it themselves.

ChannelAdvisor Corp., a Morrisville, North Carolina consulting company that helped 3,000 merchants sell $6 billion in merchandise last year, saw the migration to Amazon from EBay begin last year. Slowing sales growth on EBay encouraged sellers to move inventory to Amazon, and the gap widened, according to Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor’s CEO.

By the last three months of 2014 — critical for retailers because of holiday shopping — ChannelAdvisor saw its clients’ Amazon sales rise 33 percent from a year earlier, compared with 5 percent growth on EBay.

“EBay remains a good part of the business, but it’s on life support and the growth is on Amazon,” Wingo said.

Shopping Traffic

Chris Matsakis, president of daily-deal site in Chicago, said that as recently as 2013 sales on EBay exceeded those on Amazon’s marketplace. Last year, his revenue via Amazon grew fivefold, and are now four times greater than sales on EBay, he said.

“We’re seeing significant growth on Amazon where EBay has sort of plateaued,” Matsakis said.

Amazon — which also sells goods from its own inventory of products, not just from third-party retailers, such as EBay’s marketplace — attracted 174.9 million unique visitors in the U.S. in February, 46 percent more than EBay, according to ComScore Inc.

EBay remains the leading marketplace, measured by the number of of sellers, which has remained steady at 25 million for the past two years, according to Ryan Moore, a spokesman for EBay. He declined to comment on any sales shift, referring instead to Donahoe’s previous statements on revenue growth.

Loyal Customers

Amazon, based in Seattle, had more than 2 million merchants at the end of last year, up from more than 1 million at the end of 2013. Still, Amazon’s logistical support services and larger customer base make it attractive to sellers with high sales volumes of quick-moving inventory, while EBay remains more favorable to small sellers of collectibles and specialty items.

Amazon, which has 270 million active buyers compared with EBay’s 155 million, has had a third-party marketplace since 2000 and started offering Fulfillment by Amazon in 2007. Some sellers have been wary of Amazon, since it can also be a retail competitor.

The shift highlights the value of Amazon’s paid membership model and its investments in distribution. Amazon boasts tens of millions of customers who pay $99 a year for fast delivery, as well as offering online music and movies. Merchants are willing to pay Amazon more to access those shoppers and have Amazon handle and deliver their products.

“You can draw a pretty straight line to the success and popularity of Amazon Prime,” said Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. “People who used to shop all over the place are now doing most of their shopping on Amazon.”

Shipping Services

Three out of four merchants using the Fulfillment by Amazon warehousing, packaging and shipping service reported annual sales growth of 20 percent, according to a recent survey by Amazon. More than 40 percent of all products sold on Amazon comes from third-party merchants who pay Amazon a cut of each sale, said Tom Taylor, Amazon’s vice president of seller services. Those sellers are increasingly paying Amazon extra to handle storage and shipping, he said.

“Sellers benefit from the confidence that customers have in Amazon, while tapping into Amazon’s world-class fulfillment resources, global selling expertise and customer service,” Taylor wrote in an e-mail interview.

E-Commerce Challenge

A key benefit to selling on Amazon is prolonging the holiday shopping season, merchants said. EBay sales tail off about a week before Christmas, while sales on Amazon remain strong for several more days because customers are confident gifts will still be delivered in time, merchants said.

EBay’s marketplace revenue growth of 6.4 percent in 2014 trailed the industry’s growth rate of 22 percent, according to EMarketer. That’s a key challenge facing Devin Wenig, who will become CEO of EBay after the company spins off PayPal.

“EBay has lost its sight,” said David Epstein, e-commerce director for based in London, which has also seen sales on Amazon overshadow those on EBay. “EBay doesn’t think as a retailer, but Amazon does because so much of its business is retail.”

Apple has The Most Rating Upgrades of the Top 25 List

For years, the most profitable industry in America has been one that doesn’t design, build, or sell a single tangible thing.
This is the list of the 25 companies that have been upgraded by (or have had their price target increased) brokerages the most during the last ninety days.

Most Upgraded Companies

Amazon IS Amazin’ – But Some Folks Don’t Get It – Update Feb.2 Re: Google Competition

Amazon’s profit shows how few people understand the way the company works


jeff bezos

Amazon Inc. Amazon revealed a profit Thursday, and Wall Street analysts were pleasantly surprised by it. Comments coming from some of them suggest they still don’t understand the core philosophy of CEO Jeff Bezos and the way Amazon works. (AMZN : NASDAQ : US$356.28), Net Change: 44.50, % Change: 14.27%, Volume: 21,954,663 HAVE THE MORNING COFFEE DELIVERED VIA DRONE.

North American sales surged during the crucial holiday quarter, sending its shares up 9%. The online commerce giant, which gets about a third of its revenue from October to December, reported earnings of 45 cents a share, trouncing Wall Street’s average prediction for 17 cents. Revenue climbed 15% to $29.3 billion in the quarter, compared to an average analyst estimate of nearly $30 billion.

However, revenue rose 18% if $895 million in an unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates were excluded, executives said on a conference call. CFO Tom Szkutak said Amazon is putting “a lot more energy around making sure we get great productivity around our various fixed and variable assets.”

Amazon accelerated its efforts to win over corporate clients on Wednesday by announcing an email and scheduling service that will compete with Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG). The service, dubbed WorkMail, will launch in the second quarter and has been developed by the company’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services. It highlights Amazon’s efforts to convince deep-pocketed companies, called enterprises in tech parlance, to shift more of their work to AWS.

AMZN rose 14% on the news, and a whole bunch of analysts welcomed the online retailer’s new era of profitability.

They’re almost certainly wrong. Amazon is extremely unlikely to suddenly start focusing on earnings per share for investors.

In fact, analysts have a long history of misunderstanding Amazon.

For years, investors have complained that Amazon is chronically unprofitable. In the early years, after Amazon was founded in 1994, a lot of serious people argued that perhaps Amazon was fundamentally broken, that it would never make money and would eventually collapse.

It didn’t.

Instead, Amazon grew and grew, reporting bigger and bigger revenues year after year.

But never any profits.

A lot of people believe that if a company never makes money, it must, fundamentally, go bankrupt. This isn’t the case, as Amazon proves.

Here is how Amazon actually works: As long as the company can grow its revenues, it can spend any profit it makes on new lines of business that throw off more revenues. Those revenues may also be profitable, and those profits can in turn be immediately spent again on more growth. By eschewing profits, the company can also offer the lowest prices possible (which is why consumers are so loyal to it). Some parts of the company are profitable and fuel growth in others.

So it doesn’t matter if Amazon never makes a dime. In fact, Amazon’s history clearly shows that profits are a secondary concern to revenues, as this chart from the Financial Times shows:

View gallery



Financial Times / Thomson ReutersNow look at these analyst comments. Perhaps they have been selectively quoted by the press; maybe their words are taken out of context. We don’t know. But it’s a big coincidence that these guys are bullish on Amazon because the company has finally shown lovely new profits!

In fact it would be bad if Amazon now became profitable, because it would stunt Amazon’s ability to fund the growth it is going to need to fend off competitors. A whole bunch of new companies have figured out that Amazon’s model works in all sorts of the competing markets. Ocado, the grocery-delivery company, is the best example in the UK. Analysts in London fundamentally misunderstand how Ocado works, and the company just gets bigger and bigger regardless.

(A source tells Business Insider that Bezos has met with Ocado CEO Tim Steiner and that Bezos is an admirer of Ocado’s operation. Interpret that how you want. On paper, Ocado would make a great Amazon acquisition.)

So, to answer The Journal’s question: No! The answer is no! Get it into your heads: Amazon is not going to become a big-margin company. Never has, never will — it’s not in the model.


Amazon Is Under Attack

Amazon’s strategy of relentless expansion is looking risky as it finds itself fighting fierce battles on all sides.

In the last nine months alone, the company that launched as a book seller has made three forays into hardware, with a TV streaming box, the Fire smartphone, and its Square-killer, Local Register. Amazon also launched a local services marketplace, an unlimited e-book subscription service, Amazon Pantry for grocery delivery (and an accompanying bar-code scanner), its own in-house delivery system for same-day and grocery services, and a music-streaming offering, while also continuing its experimentation with drones and pouring millions into its original video content.

Plus, it owns Zappos,, and IMDB — and that’s just the start.

CEO Jeff Bezos’s strategy has been to forgo profits and endure slim margins while prioritizing expansion and customer experience. Amazon ruthlessly snuffs out competition with low prices and takes a hard line in negotiations with companies that want to be partners. This has led to Amazon taking vastly more ecommerce sales than anyone else — an expected $91 billion in sales this year, more than the next dozen largest e-tailers combined.

But when the company said it expects to lose a whopping $410 million to $810 million in Q3, investors panicked, and the stock tanked more than 10%. Overall this year, it’s down nearly 20%.

Scott Tilghman, from B. Riley & Co., said that although the firm is used to Amazon’s slim profits or even losses, it downgraded its estimates because “we are finding no end to the company’s spending this time around.”

Now, it’s important to note that it’s not like Amazon can’t make money. It’s that it chooses not to make money. As Evans puts it Amazon has someone at the company whose job it is to make sure that net income gets to zero.

Amazon takes nearly every dollar of cash that it generates and pumps it right back into the company, which you can see represented here by the growth in capital expenditures:
Amazon’s willingness to reinvest its money makes it an intimidating company. It’s run like a startup, not a 20 year old mainstream company.

“We won’t invest in a company unless they can tell us why they won’t get steamrolled by Amazon,” Jordan once told Fast Company.

But recently, it feels like something has changed. As Amazon expands into more verticals, its sheer number of competitors has exploded, and they’re attacking Amazon in ways that are both big and small. Amazon remains a strong company, but it suddenly seems at risk of stretching itself too thin, exposing itself to too many competitors.

The startups that could disrupt Amazon

For instance, Andreessen Horowitz just invested $44 million in Instacart, a grocery delivery service. Instacart hires people to drive their own cars to grocery stores to pick up stuff that users order through their smartphone. This is a direct competitor to AmazonFresh, which also delivers groceries, but in fewer markets around the country than Instacart does.

The Instacart example is telling, partly because the company exists almost entirely because of our smartphones and the desire for instant gratification.

Mobile apps are changing shopping (mobile commerce grew three times faster than e-commerce year-over-year overall in Q2). But, until its recent release of the Fire phone, Amazon had done hardly anything to make its mobile experience distinct from its desktop experience. It basically just ported its website into an app. With the Fire phone, Amazon went hard in the opposite direction. Part of the reason why the Fire phone hasn’t done well, is that it feels like the phone exists mainly as a portal to the Amazon ecosystem.

Besides providing a better gateway to instant gratification, many e-commerce apps also offer a more personalized shopping experience. Amazon may be the “everything store,” but it isn’t great at pointing you towards things you weren’t specifically looking for.

As Kevin Roose put it in a recent New York Magazine piece, Amazon has issues with “discovery.” Startups like Spring, Fancy, and One Kings Lane, to name a few, are all beautifying the e-commerce process while giving customers new ways to browse.


Lee Hnetinka, founder and CEO of New York City-based startup WunWun thinks his company undercuts Amazon in several different ways. WunWun is a delivery service app that lets customers purchase goods from local stores and then delivers them within an hour for free, and Hnetinka says that operating without warehouses and inventory makes it much more nimble than Amazon.
A WunWun courier on a delivery run.

“We’re also empowering merchants,” Hnetinka told Business Insider “We’re empowering them to compete with Amazon.” Although he says that he doesn’t “wake up everyday thinking about how [WunWun] can kill Amazon,” he’s not afraid of the competition.
The other reason the Instacart story is important is that it only competes with Amazon because Amazon is doing everything now. If Apple is famous for its focus, Amazon should be famous for its lack of focus.

Another thing that makes this this period of competition different than the others is that Amazon itself has trained its newest competitors.

For instance, Flipkart, an India-based e-commerce company built by two Amazon alumni, just raised $1 billion. After they announced their raise, Amazon said it would go spend $2 billion in India.

Then there’s Jet, a soon-to-be-launched e-commerce startup from Marc Lore. Lore knows Amazon’s brutal tactics as well as anyone. Prior to starting Jet, he co-founded Quidsi, which was the parent company of In 2010, BusinessWeek called “What Amazon Fears Most.” was shipping hundreds of millions of Diapers annually, making a dent in Amazon’s business. To compete, Amazon went nuclear on, drastically lowering prices forcing Quidsi to sell to Amazon for $540 million.

When he announced his new company, Lore said, “At Jet we will make use of the latest advancements in technology to create a new shopping experience that will empower customers like never before. Jet will bring unprecedented transparency and efficiencies to the overall e-commerce market, and as a result, will transform the customer experience in a way that, until now, has not been possible.”

Lore raised $55 million for his new venture, and although he doesn’t specifically call out Amazon, his ambitions are clearly big.

The giant companies that want to disrupt Amazon
Amazon isn’t under attack from just startups, though. There are big companies with deep pockets ready to challenge Amazon, too.

Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba is about to IPO. It’s hoping to raise $21 billion in the biggest IPO in history, giving Alibaba billions in cash to try to crack into the U.S. market.

Then, there’s Google, which has ramped up its inclusion of paid product listings. These listings show products right in Google searches. Amazon-Google is one of the most underreported, but important, rivalries in tech.

Google makes its money when people do commercial searches for products. As Amazon grows in power and ubiquity, consumers are going straight to to do searches for stuff instead of Google. To fight back, Google has tried to improve its shopping results. As these results improve, Amazon is hurt.


Amazon Loss Widens as Bezos Pours Money Into New Services Inc. (AMZN) fell more than 11 percent after posting its widest loss since 2012, as its cloud-computing business showed signs of cooling and investments in new distribution warehouses and gadgets hold back profitability.

The world’s largest online retailer had a second-quarter loss of $126 million, wider than analysts’ $66.7 million average estimate and a $7 million loss a year earlier. Sales climbed 23 percent to $19.3 billion, while operating expenses increased 24 percent to $19.4 billion, Amazon said in a statement today.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos’s strategy since Amazon’s inception has been to invest heavily to expand and earn customer loyalty. While the approach has disrupted industries from bookstores and electronics outlets to providers of Web-computing software, it’s been expensive. Amazon began posting quarterly losses in 2012 after being consistently profitable for almost a decade.

“As long as there is money to pour into the business, they will be pouring money into the business,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “If you can spend down all your profit and nobody is going to penalize you for it, why show a profit?”
The stock fell as much as 11.5 percent in extended trading. The stock rose less than 1 percent to $358.61 at the close in New York, leaving it down 10 percent this year.

Weighing on results is a price war in the cloud-computing market, where Amazon rents data storage and computing power to other companies. Amazon, whose cloud competitors include Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp., cut prices for its Amazon Web Services unit this year, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said on a conference call.

Cloud Performance

While Amazon doesn’t disclose specific sales for Web services, it’s a part of the “other” category in financial statements, where revenue in the second quarter declined by 3 percent to $1.17 billion from the prior period.

“We had very substantial price reductions,” Szkutak said.

Shareholders have largely continued to back Bezos’s view that big investments are necessary to gain share because Amazon’s business opportunity is enormous and will pay off in the long run. Amazon is the second-highest valued company in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, trading at 573 times earnings and trailing Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.

CEO Strategy

Amazon’s lack of profits stands in stark contrast to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has better margins and is planning an initial public offering soon. The Chinese Web retailer disclosed in a prospectus in May that its profit totaled $2.8 billion for the nine months ended Dec. 31 on revenue of $6.5 billion. Amazon earned $274 million for all of 2013 on sales of $74.5 billion.

Amazon is in an investment cycle that benefits customers and will eventually end, said Szkutak, without specifying when that will be.

“We have a tremendous amount of opportunity,” he said. While it’s impacting short-term results, he said “we’ll obviously be looking to get great returns on invested capital.”

Looking ahead, Amazon projected sales of $19.7 billion to $21.5 billion for the current quarter. Operating losses are projected to be $810 million to $410 million, Amazon said.

Bezos is spending to take Amazon further away from its roots as an online seller of books. As it makes that shift, the company is increasingly competing with large technology companies such as Apple Inc., Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Amazon is shipping this week its Fire smartphone, a $199 handset that lets users take a picture of a product to find and buy it quickly from Amazon. Reviewers have panned the device, citing a weak battery, lack of applications and the gimmicky nature of its 3-D display.

Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures for devices like its Kindle e-readers and Szkutak declined to provide specific figures about orders for the new smartphone.

Strong sales or not, Bezos has proven with devices such as the Kindle Fire tablet that he’ll stick with a product and continue to invest, even if early models don’t prove popular.

“They keep investing in these incredibly capital-intensive businesses,” Mulpuru said.

Amazon Smartphone – Unveiling Update (AMZN : NASDAQ : US$325.62), Net Change: -2.00, % Change: -0.61%, Volume: 2,902,830
AT&T (T : NYSE : US$35.02), Net Change: 0.04, % Change: 0.11%, Volume: 17,308,458

As expected, Amazon (AMZN) introduced its smartphone, called the Fire Phone, revealing the device at an event in Seattle.

The phone has a 4.7 inch screen, aluminum buttons, a high-definition LCD display, among other features.

The company’s stock was essentially flat(AMZN) on the announcement.

The Fire will also feature unlimited photo storage, plus access to Amazon’s streaming music service for Prime members, Bezos said.


“It could have a significant impact on the iPhone…the Amazon phone could be a red herring. Developers would shift towards’s platform,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director at Global Equities Research.


However, some argue that taking on Samsung (Korea Stock Exchange: 593-KR) and Apple (AAPL) in the smartphone market could turn out to be a big mistake.

“They are entering a very established market and they are trying to be a new player, and even with a name like Amazon, it’s not going to happen,” said Kevin Paul Scott, co-founder of the ADDO Institute, a branding consultancy firm.

“It’s really a branding issue. People do not associate Amazon with phones, so regardless of how good their phone is, it won’t catch on.”

Entering the smartphone jungle. AT&T will be the exclusive carrier for Amazon’s new smartphone, which is expected to be unveiled on today, The Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the plans.

The arrangement extends Amazon’s relationship with AT&T, which also provides wireless service to Kindle tablets and e-readers. Amazon hopes to distinguish its phone in a crowded market with a screen capable of displaying seemingly three-dimensional images without special glasses, according to the sources. The phone would employ retina-tracking technology embedded in four front-facing cameras, or sensors, to make some images appear to be 3-D, similar to a hologram.

. The company aims to begin shipping phones by the end of September, ahead of the holiday shopping season. AT&T had an exclusive arrangement with Apple (AAPL) when the iPhone was launched in 2007