Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Amazon Q4 sales, earnings beat expectations; outlook disappoints

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos Save Save Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos Credit Bloomberg
Laurie Berry | 01 February, 2019, 15:25

Amazon shares are up about 14 per cent this year on investor optimism that the company can maintain growth and profitability, and closed at $1,718.73 before the results were released. Amazon continues to rapidly ramp-up employment in AWS technology and sales and in its devices business. Operating expenses grew 18 per cent in the recent quarter, according to the company's statement.

Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on a call with reporters, the "situation in India is a bit fluid right now". Shares fluctuated between gains and losses in extended trading after the report and were little changed at 5:19 p.m.in NY.

"Amazon's Q4 was impressive on multiple fronts, with the strength of AWSalmost becoming a "broken record" as it continued to generate nearly geometric sales growth with still-high margins, more than offsetting investment-impacted global operating losses", said Charlie O'Shea, lead analyst for Amazon at Moody's.

Worldwide shipping costs increased 23 per cent in the fourth quarter, outpacing online sales growth and highlighting the strain of free shipping promotions Amazon launched to fend off competition from Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. over the holidays.

The guidance includes two percentage points of negative impact from changes in currency exchange rates.

"As a result, the profit story in '19 may not be as good as it was in '18", said Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson, adding that this might not be a bad thing.

Olsavsky said that investments would increase this year.

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Amazon posted a 63 per cent jump in net income to US$3.03-billion for the fourth quarter, ahead of analysts' estimates.

Amazon.com reported its third record quarterly profit in a row, showing increasing strength in its Amazon Web Services cloud-services division along with continuing increases in retail sales.

The e-commerce giant delivered earnings of $6.04, beating estimates by 45 cents.

Amazon's workforce grew by 48 percent in 2016 and 38 percent in 2017, not including major acquisitions, Olsavsky said. That figure came in below Wall Street's expectations. "Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally, and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to past year", he said in a statement.

Amazon's "other" businesses, which is mostly online advertising, funnily enough, amounted to $3.4bn, up 95 per cent.

The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company's office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. The company now ranks alongside Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc.as titans in marketing, letting these same merchants pay for high placement in Amazon's search results.

In the third quarter, Amazon pulled in US$2.9 billion in quarterly profit, with sales that climbed almost 30 per cent to US$56.6 billion.

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