Brocker.Org: Amazon went public 20 years ago today — here’s how much its earliest investors have earned (AMZN)

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Michael Seto/Business Insider

On May 15, 1997, Amazon, then an online bookstore, went public.

The company’s stock has seen a stunning 36% compounded annual gain since then. 

Amazon closed at $961.35 on Friday, giving the company a market value of about $466.2 billion. Its split-adjusted close at $1.96 on day one is now 490 times more.

Amazon has earned fortunes for its most disciplined shareholders and its founder, Jeff Bezos, who in March became the world’s second-richest person, overtaking Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and retail tycoon Amancio Ortega.

As The Wall Street Journal reported when Amazon first filed for its IPO, the company was just three years old and had no clear path to profitability. It faced a growing list of competitors that included Simon & Schuster and Barnes & Noble, both of which were already selling books online. 

Amazon has now turned a profit for eight straight quarters, thanks in large part to the strength of its cloud-computing business, Amazon Web Services. Its more popular retail segment is not as profitable, but is now usually cited as the existential threat not only to other bookstores, but any other company in the brick-and-mortar retail business.

Walmart, America’s largest retailer, is worth $228.25 billion, more than half of what Amazon is worth.  Screen Shot 2017 05 15 at 8.37.36 AMMarkets Insider

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