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Amazon reports record quarterly profit

04 February 2018

Online retailing giant Amazon has enjoyed its best ever quarter with profits nearly reaching $2bn (£1.42bn) for the first time in the company's history. Shares of the company's stock rose more than 6 percent in after-hours trading following the news. Amazon "will continue to increase our budget in that area", he said.

The public cloud leader's $1.35 billion in operating income delivered 73 percent of Amazon's net profit in the quarter that ended December 31, 2017.

We're still a few days away from SuperBowl LII and all the major ads from brands that will be released that day, but Amazon can't wait to show you its Alexa commercial apparently.

While Amazon offered only limited details on the reasons for growth, Bezos said a big factor was Alexa - the name given to the artificial intelligence program powering its speakers and adopted by makers of cars, appliances and other connected devices.

Meanwhile, the company's AWS business unit reported an accelerated year-on-year revenue growth to 44.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017, delivering over US$5.1 billion in revenue.

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That figure is expected to rise this quarter in part because the company recently raised the fee for month-to-month Prime plans, affecting some 30 percent of subscribers, according to analysts at Cowen & Co. 60 million, or close to half of all USA households, are assessed to have subscribed to the Prime service. AWS's operating income increased 46% - in line with its revenue growth - to $1.4 billion.

Main revenue growth drivers were record holiday e-commerce sales, a strong performance from the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing business, and increased advertising revenue, CFO Brian Olsavsky said on the earnings call.

The global operations saw an operating loss of $919 million on revenues of $18 billion.

"This was probably one of the cleanest quarters", Olsavsky said. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduces product after product to drive new sales and customer loyalty. Looking at 2017 as a whole, roughly 10 per cent of Amazon's entire revenue came from AWS.

Its shares trade at a premium to those of many peers.

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Amazon (AMZN) is so bullet-proof these days that even a bloodbath in stocks isn't enough to wound its stock price. In situations where Amazon can't predict what will happen (such as a TV segment), it uses dynamic fingerprinting that looks for many simultaneous activations based on the same audio.

"They're topping expectations in terms of driving new demand to the platform and becoming more profitable", said James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness Crespi Hardt & Co.

Likewise, the third and fourth-placed runners-up in the rankings, Alibaba and Google, both claimed revenue growth rates in excess of AWS' 45.9 per cent - 126.5 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.

Spurred by higher-than-expected results for its Alexa Virtual Assistant and an unprecedented number of new Prime members, Amazon.com's fourth quarter sales were up almost 40%, totaling $60.5 billion in sales.

Analysts on average were expecting just US$1.85 per share, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S said.

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Music listening time on Alexa was also "3x higher this holiday season, : he said, adding Amazon will "continue to invest heavily" on Alexa".

Amazon reports record quarterly profit