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How to lose £Billions

Amazon’s net losses reached almost half a billion dollars over the past three months, making it the worst quarterly loss in the company’s history, the retail giant has revealed.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has allowed operating expenses to soar as new projects including millions spent on drone technology, cloud computing and new web servers have piled up. The spending frenzy has also seen the firm splashing out to buy media rights to work with a plethora of firms including content providers Netflix and Hulu as well as various Cable TV companies.

The latest losses figure is more than 10 times the $41m loss it recorded over the same period last year.

The news was greeted with a share drop of 11%, wiping an incredible $15bn off the company’s value overnight.

Meanwhile, revenues have risen by 20% to $20.58bn but that was still below market forecasts of $20.85bn.

And more bad news is on the way as the company has predicted that sales over the upcoming Christmas period are likely to be between $27.3bn and $30.3bn, someway off the $30.89bn analysts expected.

Its not just technology retailers that are suffering free fall loses

Tesco, Britain’s largest ‘real retailer’ has lost 50% of its market value in a year.
A share price that drops by 50% may not mean very much to the shopper in the street, until you look at the consequences and realise that Tesco's profits and dividends - slashed by the retailer – are largely owned by our pension funds. The business is also one of Britain's largest corporate tax payers, a hole the chancellor will need to fill when austerity is already running behind schedule.

It doesn't just rain for Tesco. It pours, then it hails, then there's a bit of sleet and snow thrown in.

Some of the 2014 Tesco headlines

Wed, 4 Jun 2014 - Trouble for Tesco as sales slide 3.8%

Tue, 17 Jun 2014 - Every little hurts: Tesco downgraded by Moody's

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 - Tesco boss Philip Clarke to step down amid profit warning

Fri, 29 Aug 2014 - Tesco issues third profit warning of 2014 and slashes dividend by 75%

Not a year of good news but then came the big one as Tesco stumbled across a £250m accounting problem in its profit forecasts.

Thur, 25 Sept 2014 - Tesco accounting error 'stratospheric'

For a business that was predicting it would make £1.1bn profits for the first half of this year, a mis-statement of £250m is a significant number, (it actually turned out to be £263m).

In an era of rising sales and increasing amounts of money going through the tills, moving profits forward can later easily be disguised, cloaked by increasing revenues in the second half of the year. Any issues in the first six months are "traded away".

But when sales are falling - as they have been for a number of quarters at Tesco - then moving profits forward starts to cause problems and this seems to have caught up with the country’s largest physical retailer.

Thur, 16 Oct 2014 - Warren Buffett sells more than 245 million Tesco shares

The personal fallout followed as one of the worlds richest men and investors admitted he had made a mistake and reportedly lost a staggering $700m, or in real money approx. £500,000,000 or 2,000 average UK priced houses betting on Tesco shares.

Thur, 23 Oct 2014 - Tesco chairman resigns due to worse than forecast profits and declining sales

As in any business, even the largest are vulnerable.

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