Inc. AMZN — more than two decades old and still in its Prime!

The online retail giant witnessed strong sales driven by robust shipment through its Prime program in 2017.

The company said that more than five billion products were shipped through its Prime program in 2017. This includes free same-day, one-day, and two-day shipping. The best-selling products purchased by Prime members in the U.S. were Amazon’s own Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot.

Amazon added, “more new paid members joined Prime worldwide this year than any previous year.”

Notably, on a 12-month basis, Amazon has underperformed the industry it belongs to. The company’s shares have gained 57.8% compared with the industry’s growth of 63.3%.

Interesting Numbers

Although Amazon never divulges its exact number of Prime subscribers, it said, “Prime membership continued to grow this holiday — in fact, in one week alone, more than four million people started Prime free trials or began paid memberships.”

According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, Amazon now has 90 million Prime members in the U.S. alone who spend about $1,300 on average per year compared with only $700 for non-Prime customers.

What is Prime?

Prime is a way for Amazon to incentivize people to buy from Amazon. It offers free two-day shipping (or quicker on occasion), and offers members a host of benefits, including access to video streaming, music, e-books and more.

Amazon Prime comes for $99 a year after a month’s free trial, or $10.99 a month, or, if you’re a student with a valid .edu email, at half the price or $5.49 a month for the number of months that you use it (after a six-month trial). Or, if you only want Prime Video, it’s available at $8.99 a month. That isn’t all. Amazon makes it a point to shower Prime members with other deals and steals to ensure that they stick to it.

The prime service has been expanding considerably over the years, with new Prime membership signups exceeding more than the company’s expectations during peak periods in December. Last year, Prime expanded to countries like Mexico, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Singapore. As of now, Amazon Prime is present in 16 countries around the world.

Prime is Amazon’s biggest competitive advantage and we believe it will continue to gain momentum in the future.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Amazon currently carries at a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A few better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector are PetMed Express, Inc. PETS, SMART Global Holdings, Inc. SGH and Applied Materials, Inc. AMAT, each sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Long-term earnings per share growth rate for PetMed Express, SMART Global and Applied Materials is projected to be 10%, 15% and 12.7%, respectively.

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