Amazon shares worth 8 times Apple in advance of Kindle Fire

November 14, 2011: 7:32 AM ET

The valuation gap grows wider as traders bet heavily on Jeff Bezos' new tablet

Click to enlarge. Source: Jeff Forsberg

It's hard to say which makes less sense to me: The fact that Amazon (AMZN) is trading at a price that's 114.6 times its earnings over the past 12 months or that Apple (AAPL) is trading at a P/E of 13.9.

We've been watching this disparity grow since last June. That's when Jeff Forsberg sent us his Apple as a coiled spring graphic emphasizing the gaps between the stocks' share prices and the median targets set by the analysts who track them -- gaps that haven't changed much since then.

The price-to-earnings gap, however, has only grown wider. Five months ago, Amazon's trailing P/E ratio was roughly 5 times Apple's. Last month it was 7 times. Today it's 8 times Apple's, and that's not taking into account the 13x difference between the size of Apple's hoard of cash and marketable securities ($82.57 billion) and Amazon's ($6.33 billion).

I hope for the sake of Amazon investors that the Kindle Fire scheduled to ship Tuesday is as big a hit as it's been touted to be. CEO Jeff Bezos has bet heavily in advance of holiday season sales on his new line of tablets. Any weakness on that front could really hurt.

UPDATE: Drilling down a bit more into the Thomson Financial data, Forsberg offers this tale of the tape:

Source: Jeff Forsberg. Data: Thomson Financial

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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