Amazon Misses Big—But Don’t Give Up on the Company Just Yet
This was supposed to be a stellar quarter for Amazon. Its fourth quarter earnings report covers the all-important holiday season, and by all indications, Amazon had killed it. It added more than 3 million Prime members in the third week of December alone. It broke shipping records. And sales of Amazon devices doubled compared to a year ago.
But when it comes to Wall Street, there’s always a possibility for a plot twist. Today Amazon shares are plummeting in after-hours trading—as of this writing, it’s down more than 15 percent—after the company didn’t meet the soaring expectations of analysts and everyone else.
Over the past three months, the e-commerce giant reported a net income of $1 per share on revenue of $35.75 billion. Great, right? Especially for a company with a reputation for miniscule profits. What’s more, that’s a 22 percent increase from $29.3 billion in revenue during the same time last year.
But there’s nothing quite like setting great expectations and then not quite meeting them. Analysts canvassed by Thomson Reuters expected quarterly earnings of $1.56 a share on $35.93 billion in revenue.
All of this doesn’t mean Amazon has now become a bad bet, however. Even as the tech giant insists on spending liberally to keep growing—recently, according to rumors, it expanded its logistics capacity with investments in trucks, cargo planes, and ocean freight—this is now the third straight quarter in which Amazon has posted a profit: $482 million in net profit, to be exact, which is also the highest ever for the company thus far.
Another trend Amazon can be proud of: its ever-expanding cloud business. Amazon Web Services’ fourth quarter revenue grew 69 percent year over year, generating $2.41 billion in sales. But the crazy growth of its cloud is slowing down a bit: two quarters ago, Amazon posted 82 percent growth in AWS revenue; last quarter, sales grew 78 percent year over year. Still, $2.41 billion beats analyst estimates of $2.38 billion.
All told, this earnings report isn’t the runaway success most people expected it to be. But it’s important to keep things in perspective. In the past 12 months, Amazon shares have been wildly successful, climbing more than 101 percent. It was a top performer in the S&P 500. And Amazon will be showing off its very first Super Bowl commercial next week. So, there are very good reasons to be less than worried. After all, the company has now cracked the proverbial one-two-trend: Amazon is officially, consistently profitable.
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