2017 was a banner year for Amazon, with the company expanding its lead in cloud computing, adding brick and mortar retail stores, shipping more than 5 billion items from Prime and completing its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.
But according to some analysts, 2018 may be its biggest year yet, since it could be the year it acquires Target.
Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster has put out a list of his top tech predictions for 2018 and chief among them is Amazon acquiring the Minneapolis-based Target, calling it an "ideal offline partner for Amazon."
Munster, a former Wall Street analyst known for his bold calls on Apple, said a potential acquisition of Target by Amazon is his "boldest 2018 prediction," but noted that the two have more in common than some think.
"Amazon believes the future of retail is a mix of mostly online and some offline," Munster wrote on Loup Ventures' website. "Target is the ideal offline partner for Amazon for two reasons, shared demographic, and manageable but comprehensive store count. As for the demographic, Target’s focus on moms is central to Amazon’s approach to win wallet share."
Munster added that by potentially bringing Target into its folds, Amazon's store count would be approximately 2,300, less than 20 percent of Walmart's global store count, which stands at 11,695.
A potential acquisition of Target could cost Amazon $41 billion, more than three times the amount it paid for Whole Foods.
One possible snag in any forthcoming acquisition is a potential anti-trust issue given the rocky nature of the relationship between Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos and President Donald Trump. However, Munster doesn't see this as an issue.
"As for anti-trust, the Trump administration won’t do any favors for Jeff Bezos, but the market share numbers suggest the deal will be approved," Munster wrote. He added that Walmart is expected to have around $315 billion in U.S.-based sales in 2017, while Amazon and Target may have $105 billion and $71 billion, respectively. Per his calculations, Walmart has approximately 23 percent of the retail market in the U.S., while a combined Amazon and Target would have 13 percent.
The president has a long-standing feud with the online retailer and Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, a frequent critic of Trump.
Trump has mentioned Amazon negatively over the past several months, most recently calling it out toward the end of December, saying it was getting rich at the expense of the U.S. Postal Service.
“Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!” Trump tweeted.
It is unknown what prompted Trump's tweet, but it may have been in response to a “Fox & Friends” segment about tech trends coming in 2018 which focused on Amazon making shopping easier for its customers.
Financial issues have plagued the U.S. Postal Service for some time, due in part to having to pre-fund its long-term pension and healthcare liabilities, an issue that has been brought up repeatedly over the years. In September, the USPS reported a net loss of $2.1 billion in the third quarter, marking the 11th consecutive year that the USPS has lost money. In the last decade, it’s posted $65.1 billion in losses.
In August, Trump attacked Amazon, tweeting it was hurting "tax paying retailers" and in conjunction, many cities and states around the U.S.
"Amazon is doing great damage to tax paying retailers," Trump wrote. "Towns, cities and states throughout the U.S. are being hurt - many jobs being lost!"
In June, Trump accused the Jeff Bezos-led Amazon of not paying taxes.
"The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying Internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!," the president tweeted.
Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this story. Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia