Amazon’s results beat estimates on holiday season boost

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and revenue on Thursday, driven by a surge in online shopping during the holiday season and strong demand for its cloud services.

Shares of the company were up 3.6 percent in extended trading, after closing down 4 percent on the Nasdaq.

Net sales in North America, its biggest market, jumped 42.2 percent to $37.30 billion in the reported quarter.

The company’s fast-shipping and video-streaming service, Amazon Prime, continued to add members at a brisk pace during the holiday season.

More than four million people started free Prime trials or opted for paid memberships in one week alone, the company had said in December.

Last month, the company raised the monthly fee for U.S. Prime membership by $2, its first increase in almost four years.

Amazon, which shipped over five billion items worldwide through its subscription-based Prime service in 2017, said its net sales rose 38.2 percent to $60.45 billion in the reported quarter from $43.74 billion a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting $59.83 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue from Amazon Web Services, the company’s fast-growing cloud services business, surged 44.6 percent to $5.11 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $5 billion.

Net income rose to $1.86 billion, or $3.75 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from $749 million, or $1.54 per share, a year earlier.

The results include a tax benefit of about $789 million related to the new U.S. tax law.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned $2.16 per share, while analysts were expecting a profit of $1.85 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Amazon’s total operating expenses surged 37.3 percent to $58.33 billion as the company invests heavily into expanding its Prime service, creating original video content and building its warehouse and delivery infrastructure.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

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