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In June of 1998, Amazon expanded beyond books and began selling music. Amazon’s entry was soon rewarded; within months, it became the largest online music retailer in the world. Continuing to grow, Amazon entered the video/DVD business in November 1998. (See Exhibit 4 for a timeline of Amazon’s entry into various categories.) In entering the music and video categories, Amazon extended the fully integrated business model that it had developed in books. For both these categories, Amazon completed the full range of commerce functions, including buying, warehousing, merchandising, shipping, and customer service.
At year-end 1998, the company’s stock price stood at $53 per share, a 3,700% increase from the (adjusted) IPO price of $1.50. Amazon’s year-end market capitalization was $17 billion.5 (See Exhibit 5 for history of Amazon stock price and market capitalization.) On December 16, 1998, Henry Blodget, a well-known Wall Street equity analyst, called for Amazon’s stock, then trading at $40, to reach $67. Within weeks, the stock exceeded Blodget’s prediction and, as an emblem of the height of the Internet stock frenzy of the late 1990s, reached $105 in late April 1999 and again in December 1999. Blodget’s December 1998 report reasoned:
Amazon is in the early stages of building a global electronic retailing franchise that could generate $10 billion in revenue and EPS of $10 within five years. . . . Although Amazon’s stock price is, in our opinion 1) incredibly expensive relative to near-term expectations and 2) scary to buy, we believe that the company’s opportunity is large enough to support a market capitalization much higher than the current valuation .6
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