Amazon hits record $4.3 billion profit

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In 2017, Amazon earned just $3.0 billion in profit.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) shares were volatile after reporting a fourth-quarter earnings and sales beat.

Shares of the company fell 1.1 percent to $1,700 in trading after the bell.

The company has only recently exceeded analyst expectations during the fourth quarter.

For the full year, net sales were up 31 percent to $232.9 billion, compared to $177.9 billion in 2017, while profit climbed to $10.1 billion. AWS accounted for 10 percent of the company's net sales in the quarter, up from 8 percent in the year-earlier period. Amazon posted earnings per share of $6.04 on net income of $3 billion, surpassing a projected $5.68 per share. Assuming AWS grows in a range of 42% to 45% this quarter, that translates to total revenue around $7.3 billion, enough to surpass Street forecast - something Amazon has done the previous four quarters.

Amazon's years-long, meteoric growth rate may finally be cooling. This is a sign of strength, as Amazon shifts toward more profitable business segments such as advertising, its cloud computing division Amazon Web Services, and its third-party marketplace and fulfillment services. Additionally, more than 1 billion items ordered by Prime members were shipped for free.

Wall Street was looking for earnings of $5.67 per share on revenue of $71.87 billion.

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"Alexa was very busy during her holiday season", said Bezos. Amazon's Q1 2019 estimated operating income is $2.3-3.3bn, while analysts expected a guesstimate of $3bn.

Amazon first broke out how many customers actually pay for Prime membership in April 2018 - a whopping 100 million.

While this was better than analysts had expected, it was still the slowest sales growth for the firm since the start of 2015.

Shoppers will spend $484 billion globally on Amazon this year, up 26 percent from 2018, and the Seattle-based company will capture more than half of all online spending in the USA, according to EMarketer Inc. Its market cap, more than $840bn as of Thursday afternoon, is the largest of any publicly traded company in the world.

Amazon published its fourth quarter financial results on Thursday, beating market expectations. Amazon in October pledged to pay all of its warehouse employees at least $15 an hour, while eliminating some bonuses and stock awards. Sales in physical stores, which are predominantly Whole Foods locations, decreased 2.7 percent to $4.4 billion.

Bezos pointed to the Amazon-branded Echo speakers that are at the heart of the new strategy. In December, Amazon said it broke new records for the holidays - an announcement it tends to make every year - but didn't offer much as far as details.

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