AMZN » Topics » Our Most Important Financial Measure: Free Cash Flow Per Share

This excerpt taken from the AMZN 8-K filed Apr 5, 2005.

Our Most Important Financial Measure: Free Cash Flow Per Share

 

Amazon.com’s financial focus is on long-term growth in free cash flow per share.

 

Amazon.com’s free cash flow is driven primarily by increasing operating profit dollars and efficiently managing both working capital and capital expenditures. We work to increase operating profit by focusing on improving all aspects of the customer experience to grow sales and by maintaining a lean cost structure.


We have a cash generative operating cycle1 because we turn our inventory quickly, collecting payments from our customers before payments are due to suppliers. Our high inventory turnover means we maintain relatively low levels of investment in inventory—$480 million at year end on a sales base of nearly $7 billion.

 

The capital efficiency of our business model is illustrated by our modest investments in fixed assets, which were $246 million at year end or 4% of 2004 sales.

 

Free cash flow2 grew 38% to $477 million in 2004, a $131 million improvement over the prior year. We are confident that if we continue to improve customer experience—including increasing selection and lowering prices—and execute efficiently, our value proposition, as well as our free cash flow, will further expand.

 

As to dilution, total shares outstanding plus stock-based awards are essentially unchanged at the end of 2004 compared with 2003, and are down 1% over the last three years. During that same period, we’ve also eliminated over six million shares of potential future dilution by repaying more than $600 million of convertible debt that was due in 2009 and 2010. Efficiently managing share count means more cash flow per share and more long-term value for owners.

 

This focus on free cash flow isn’t new for Amazon.com. We made it clear in our 1997 letter to shareholders—our first as a public company—that when “forced to choose between optimizing GAAP accounting and maximizing the present value of future cash flows, we’ll take the cash flows.” I’m attaching a copy of our complete 1997 letter and encourage current and prospective shareowners to take a look at it.

 

As always, we at Amazon.com are grateful to our customers for their business and trust, to each other for our hard work, and to our shareholders for their support and encouragement.

 

 

LOGO

Jeffrey P. Bezos

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Amazon.com, Inc.

 

April 2005

 


1 The operating cycle is number of days of sales in inventory plus number of days of sales in accounts receivable minus accounts payable days.
2 Free cash flow is defined as net cash provided by operating activities less purchases of fixed assets, including capitalized internal-use software and website development, both of which are presented on our statements of cash flows. Free cash flow for 2004 of $477 million is net cash provided by operating activities of $567 million less purchases of fixed assets, including capitalized internal-use software and website development costs, of $89 million. Free cash flow for 2003 of $346 million is net cash provided by operating activities of $392 million less purchases of fixed assets, including capitalized internal-use software and website development costs, of $46 million.

 

 


LOGO

 

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