Amazon's biggest bull says it may be bluffing about nixed NYC HQ2 – Crain's New York Business

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Amazon's biggest bull says it may be bluffing about nixed NYC HQ2 - Crain's New York Business

One analyst isn’t convinced that Amazon.com Inc. is scuttling plans to open a second headquarters in New York City.

“On first blush, we believe Amazon may be bluffing,” wrote Tom Forte, an analyst at DA Davidson, who has a Street-high price target of $2,450. Rather, the announcement may serve “as a means to get the government back to the table.”

Shares of Amazon rose 0.5% in pre-market trading. On Thursday, the stock dipped 1.1%, a decline that snapped a three-day rally. The stock is up 8% thus far this year.

Amazon is “incredibly shrewd when it comes to lobbying and working with governments,” Forte wrote in a note to clients. “We have a difficult time believing the company would have invested so much time and energy in selecting a second city for a new headquarters… only to throw in the towel on the first significant blowback.”

Those opposed to Amazon’s New York City plan frequently cited the benefits package offered to the company, including close to $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies.

Forte, who has suggested that buy-rated Amazon expand its portfolio of physical stores by opening gas stations, said a major New York City location still made “geographic sense” for the company, given it is “advancing its important efforts in advertising and media,” just as another office in Northern Virginia offered strategic proximity to Washington D.C.

An office in Long Island City, Queens, he continued, could be used “as a testing ground for a number of Amazon’s initiatives and, most importantly, to advance its delivery (including its first-party ones) efforts,” in addition to providing “significant” access to talent.

Such factors may be more important than the size of the incentive deal, Forte implied, noting that the title of Amazon’s blog post, where the announcement was declared, read “Update on plans for New York City headquarters.”

That “sounds, to us, that this is not a final decision,” Forte said.

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