A surge in Amazon.com Inc. shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer’s earnings report briefly propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world’s richest person.
Shares of the online retailer traded at $1,055.37 at 2:17 p.m. in New York, after climbing as high as $1,083.31, which gave Bezos a net worth of $92.3 billion. Gates had a net worth of $90.8 billion as of the Wednesday close. In afternoon trading, Bezos remains ranked second on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, behind the Microsoft Corp. co-founder. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.
Investors and analysts, in addition to watching Amazon’s progress in taking market share in categories such as apparel and groceries, will be scrutinizing how many new subscriptions the retailer sold for its $99-a-year Amazon Prime service, which offers delivery discounts and video and music streaming. Prime shoppers spend more than customers who don’t have a membership.
“Amazon Prime is why so much physical retail is going away,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1,250. “Anyone who joins Prime shops in retail stores 10 percent less, and that number will keep accelerating as Amazon adds more inventory.”