Amazon in its prime? Share price passes $300

The Internet retail giant's stock crosses milestone trading point a day after Apple loses a landmark e-book antitrust case.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read
Amazon stock performance during the past 12 months. Google

Apple may not be thrilled with Wednesday's e-book ruling, but Amazon investors seem pleased.

The Internet retail giant surpassed the $300-a-share mark for the first time Thursday, trading as high as $300.69 before closing at $299.66, up $7.33, or 2.51 percent. Apple was also up today, closing at $427.29, gaining $6.56, or 1.56 percent, on a day when all the major U.S. stock market indices recorded improvements of 1 percent to 1.5 percent.

The stock movement comes a day after a federal judge found that Apple played a central role in a conspiracy with publishers to eliminate price competition for e-books. Another trial will determine the damages to be paid by Apple, which has said it will appeal the verdict.

Amazon, which was already the leader in the e-book market, is considered by some observers as the big winner in yesterday's Justice Department's antitrust victory over Apple.

"Amazon emerges as the winner from all of the activity related to e-book pricing," Tom Forte, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, told Bloomberg. "The company seems to be free to price the way it wants to, which, by Amazon's standards, is aggressively to gain market share."

While Apple stock has lost more than 28 percent of its value in the past 12 months, Amazon shares are up more than 37 percent during the same period, which should give prospective Amazon investors reason to pause, warns MarketWatch:

At $300, Amazon's shares are more than 135 times estimated earnings for the next four quarters, according to FactSet. That's about 8 times the average multiple for the consumer discretionary sector of the S&P 500, according to FactSet, and about 80% above the stock's average price-to-earnings ratio over the last five years. And its far above the P/E ratios for Internet peers Google and eBay -- both of which trade about 18 times estimated earnings.

Despite those figures, numbers brokers aren't hitting the panic button quite yet. More than 70 percent of brokers covering Amazon still rate it as a "buy," and none has yet lowered it to a "sell" rating, MarketWatch reported. The stock's median price target is $325, according to Thomson Reuters.