Why Doesn’t Amazon Pay a Dividend? | Smart Change: Personal Finance


For years, investors may have shied away from buying Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) stock due to its really high share price. But earlier this year, Amazon made the decision to split its stock, making shares more affordable for investors.

If you’re looking to add a tech stock to your portfolio as a means of diversification or eager to own Amazon, then you may consider taking that leap, now that the per-share price is lower. But one thing you won’t get when you invest in Amazon is a stream of dividend payments.

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While many companies that issue stocks pay dividends on a regular basis (with some even steadily increasing their dividends through the years), Amazon doesn’t pay dividends to shareholders. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Why Amazon doesn’t pay dividends

Companies that make money can choose what to do with it. Some might choose to reinvest all of their profits into the business, while some might opt to share the wealth with stockholders in the form of dividend payments.

Neither approach is right versus wrong — it’s really just a matter of what strategy a given company prefers. Amazon’s business model has long centered on innovating and branching out into different corners of the market, as evidenced by its foray into the grocery and pharmacy business in recent years. As such, it’s easy to see why Amazon doesn’t choose to pay dividends — it would rather use its money to grow as a company.

Whether that’s a reason not to invest in Amazon is up to you. If your goal is to secure a steady stream of dividend income in your portfolio, then Amazon is clearly a poor choice. But if you’re willing to overlook that absent dividend and focus on growth, then you may decide that Amazon is a buy.

One thing to keep in mind is that companies that pay generous dividends don’t always experience the same growth as those that don’t. So what you lose in the form of absent dividend payments, you might gain in the form of share-price appreciation — especially if you load up on Amazon shares now and hold them for many years.

Look at the big picture

Some investors get caught up in the process of chasing dividends, to the point where they put their money into companies that aren’t necessarily a great fit for their portfolios. Also, some people mistake higher dividend payments as a sign of financial health. That’s definitely not always the case. If you’re interested in owning a piece of Amazon and, after doing your research, feel that it’s a solid business, then the company’s lack of dividend payments shouldn’t be the driving factor that prompts you to pass on it.

Dividends are certainly a nice thing to have since you can use them as cash or reinvest them. But you can make plenty of money over time by investing in quality businesses, like Amazon, with growth as a clear top priority.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Maurie Backman has positions in Amazon. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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