Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos will lose his status as the world’s richest man if the company’s weaker-than-expected profits dent its valuation.
Shares in the e-commerce giant plunged as much as 9% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company blamed the costs of its expanded one-day delivery service for its first year-over-year profit decline in two years.
If the sell-off holds, more than $80bn would be knocked off the company’s value on Friday. Bezos owns around 12% of Amazon’s total shares, meaning that his net worth could fall by as much as $10bn.
That would push him below Bill Gates, whose net worth of $107bn currently makes him the world’s second-richest man, according to Bloomberg.
Bezos overtook Gates on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in October 2017, in part because Gates has donated tens of billions to philanthropic causes.
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Gates still holds a 1% stake in Microsoft. Shares in the software company have surged so far this year due to the continued success of its cloud platform Azure and social media platform LinkedIn, each of which have seen strong revenue growth.
Bezos on Thursday defended the company’s decision to invest in Amazon’s one-day delivery service, which enables subscribers to its premium Prime service to get more than 10 million items delivered within 24 hours.
Amazon has long prioritised growth over profits. “It’s a big investment, and it’s the right long-term decision for customers,” Bezos said.
“Customers love the transition of Prime from two days to one day—they’ve already ordered billions of items with free one-day delivery this year.”
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While noting that the investments were necessary, analysts suggested that they would continue to weigh on the company’s profitability. Amazon had previously charged extra for the speedy delivery.
Revenue in the company’s third-quarter fell to $3.2bn, compared to $3.7bn in the same period last year. The company’s estimates for the final quarter of the year also came in below expectations.
Analysts had forecast that sales during the holiday period would come in at more than $87bn, but Amazon said they would fall within the $80bn to $86.5bn range on Thursday, spooking investors about its capacity to maintain bumper growth.