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The only chart you need ahead of Amazon’s earnings

By Alison Griswold

Amazon’s second-quarter earnings are due out this afternoon. Investors will be watching for the usual stuff—profit, revenue, the performance of Amazon Web Services, any tidbits about Amazon Prime and the Amazon Echo—plus any additional details on Amazon’s planned acquisition of Whole Foods. They’re expecting earnings of $1.39 per share on revenue of about $37 billion.

Those earnings could very easily turn out to be secondary to the milestone Amazon hit yesterday (July 26), when the value of the company officially surpassed half a trillion dollars.

Only five publicly traded US companies are worth more than $500 billion, and all of them are technology ones: Apple, Google parent Alphabet, Microsoft, and, as of yesterday, Amazon and Facebook, the latter of which surged on its second-quarter earnings. Half a trillion dollars has no particular significance as a marker except that it is a very big and very impressive-sounding number. People were similarly excited when the Dow hit 20,000 for the first time in January, even though the milestone was mostly psychological and an opportunity to sell some hats.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has long eschewed quarterly results in favor of long-term investments. For years he tortured investors as Amazon lost money quarter after quarter, pouring its revenue back into various operations, expansions, and—always—additional benefits for Prime subscribers. It’s only in the last two years that Amazon has started consistently turning a profit, and investors are giddy about it. Since the start of 2015, Amazon’s stock is up 200% and counting. Whatever Amazon has to share about its second quarter is a comparative blip. And Bezos is the world’s richest man because of it.