But analysts remained subdued on the earnings, which included an $11.8 billion boost from Amazon’s investment in EV maker Rivian Inc., which went public in November, even as net sales rose to $137 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
The e-commerce behemoth has been a pandemic-era winner but is exposed to the supply chain headaches, labour churn and inflation that have come to weigh on people’s lives and business’ ability to make money. “Despite these short-term challenges, we continue to feel optimistic and excited about the business as we emerge from the pandemic,” CEO Andy Jassy said in an earnings statement.
Amazon said it had its “biggest-ever Black Friday to Cyber Monday holiday shopping weekend”. The company also noted that its Amazon Web Services unit had inked big cloud computing deals with Nasdaq, Meta Platforms and others. AWS generated $17.78 billion in revenue in the period, 40% more year-on-year.
This came as Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Apple Inc. have posted whopping profits this earnings season, though Meta Platforms was battered by markets — losing some $200 billion in value — after disappointing results that cast doubts about its future.
“Amazon managed to beat on the top and bottom lines despite softer growth trends for e-commerce this holiday quarter, which also weighed on growth in the high margin ads business,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Andrew Lipsman. “The one clear bright spot for the core business was the continued acceleration in AWS to help bolster a bottom line.”
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In the fourth quarter, Amazon’s operating profit, a key indicator of profitability, came in at $3.5 billion, half what it was a year ago.
In the coming months, news is expected on the efforts of workers to organise unions at sites in New York and Alabama, either of which would be the first at an Amazon US warehouse. Also, consumers will see the price go up for Amazon’s Prime membership in the United States from $12.99 to $14.99 per month with the annual rate going from $119 to $139 — the first increase since 2018.
It has been an uneven earnings season, with great hits and misses.
Alphabet announced quarterly profits Tuesday that beat expectations and nearly doubled in 2021 — after a booming holiday season for the online ads giant facing anti-trust regulation scrutiny. The Silicon Valley giant’s dominance online has powered it to new heights during the pandemic period but has also left it in the sights of regulators around the world.
For its part, Apple reported record $124 billion quarterly revenue last week, despite a global chip pinch and shifting impacts of the pandemic that have weighed down other big tech players. The supply chain mess that has disrupted the making and delivery of products to consumers is not disappearing, but Apple said it expected less impact in the coming months.
But Facebook’s parent firm Meta Platforms suffered on Thursday a plunge in stock value that was comparable to the size of New Zealand’s economy. In addition to costs of big investments on its metaverse vision for the internet and trouble for its core ads business, the firm predicted slower growth and even reported its first dip in daily users globally on the signature Facebook platform.
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