Wall Street loves Amazon because it doesn't have a surplus of cash on its books. And it believes in the vision and capabilities of Jeff Bezos. It trusts him to do the right thing with all the cash that Amazon generates and invest it wisely to grow the business further, both in newer geographies and in newer domains.
A few months ago, Apple faced negative sentiment on Wall Street because it was sitting on a lot of surplus cash. In general, Wall Street doesn't take too kindly when it sees a company sitting on cash. Because that is an indicator that the management doesn't know what to do with all that money. They are unable to identify newer opportunities quick enough to invest this cash in and realise greater returns. And so, they react by driving the stock price down.
This doesn't mean that Wall Street blindly looks at the surplus cash of a company. If that were the case, a company could use the surplus cash to pay higher dividends, pay higher salaries and show a lower surplus. But that results in its stock price being driven down as well. Because these are not investments that results in greater rewards down the line.
The stock price only goes up when the surplus cash is meaningfully deployed to expand marketshare or to create new markets altogether.
Now, think of what the likes of Amazon, Flipkart, Bigbasket and several other e-commerce startups have done. They have increased our time surplus. With no longer a need to spend time going to a store, stand in a queue and buy things, we have more time on our hand.
What about Cleartax, Internet banking, Paytm for online bill payments? They too have created a time surplus for us.
And then there is what's coming. Self-driving cars, drone deliveries, artificial intelligence, all touted to take away many of our jobs. They too will create a time surplus for us.
What do we do with this time surplus?
So far, we have been happy spending that playing more games, watching more television and going to more restaurants.
But that is the equivalent of paying your employees more when you have surplus cash. If we did this on Wall Street, our stock price would be headed south.
Whether our stock price heads up or down depends not just on generating the surplus time, but what we do with that surplus.