Amazon’s Jeff Bezos overtakes Bill Gates as world’s richest person

Surge in online retailer’s shares leaves Bezos with net worth of $90.9bn

A surge in Amazon. com shares on Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer's earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world's richest person.

Shares of the online retailer rose 1.3 per cent to $1,065.92 (€912) at 10.10am in New York, giving Mr Bezos a net worth of $90.9 billion, versus $90.7 billion for Gates. If that holds through the 4pm close, Mr Bezos (53), will leapfrog Mr Gates, the Microsoft cofounder, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Mr 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 clothes and groceries, will be scrutinising 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 analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1,250.


More inventory

“Anyone who joins Prime shops in retail stores 10 per cent less, and that number will keep accelerating as Amazon adds more inventory.”

Investors also monitor Amazon's cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, a fast-growing and profitable business that accounts for about 10 per cent of revenue. Amazon leads the cloud-computing industry, but faces increasing competition from Microsoft and Google parent, Alphabet.

Amazon is expected to post quarterly revenue of $37.2 billion, a 22 per cent jump from a year earlier, according to the average estimate of 34 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and earnings per share of $1.42.