Amazon reported Thursday that it had a very merry holiday, although Wall Street seems a bit ambivalent about it.
Following a holiday shopping season that amounted to its strongest in history, according to Amazon, the company went on to post a major upturn in net income and continued growth in revenue in its fourth-quarter earnings report.
The business raked in $3 billion in net income, for a 66 percent leap over the previous year. Earnings per share came in at $6.04 on $72.4 billion of revenue, which easily beat analysts’ predictions of $5.65 EPS on $71.61 billion and far exceeded the 2017 holiday season’s $3.75 a share on $60.5 billion in sales. Year over year, that amounts to a jump in revenue of roughly 20 percent, with record profits for the third quarter in a row.
There’s no question that the e-commerce giant’s business is still growing, especially given the peak, high-value holiday retail quarter. But it’s the pace that has Wall Street concerned.
That 20 percent revenue uptick sounds good — and indeed, it beat analysts’ expectations of 19.7 percent. But set against the company’s skyward trajectory over the past three years, it looks a little less stellar, amounting to the slowest growth for Amazon since the top of 2015. Meanwhile, the company’s guidance for the current quarter fell below expectations, rattling investors even further.
On the heels of the report, Amazon’s shares oscillated in after-market trading Thursday between minor gains and losses, as investors tried to make sense of the situation.
Of course, Amazon proudly disclosed that sales increased across most of its business segments, with the usual suspects landing at the winning end of the report.
On the tech front, Amazon Web Services, a juggernaut in enterprise cloud services, posted 46 percent growth year over year. And the company’s devices business has been booming.
In the Echo voice appliance range, the littlest model is leading the way.
“Alexa was very busy during her holiday season. Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally,” Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos said in a prepared statement, “and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to last year.”
Earlier in January, Dave Limp, senior vice president of devices and services, disclosed that users have bought more than 100 million Alexa-powered gadgets, whether an Echo or a partner product.
But on the losing end of the report, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar retail business — essentially its Whole Foods operation — suffered a downturn, dropping 3 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.
As for its e-tail focus, the company is looking at refining and improving its advertising and recommendations, including experimenting with data tools and the developing toolkits for its brand partners, as well as continuing to improve its back-end logistics mechanisms.