Amazon’s stock jumps 6% after its 4th-quarter results beat the Street’s expectations

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
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Mario Tama/Getty Images

  • Amazon’s fourth-quarter results, which it announced Thursday, topped analyst expectations.
  • The company’s cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services, grew rapidly and again provided the bulk of Amazon’s profits.
  • Investors cheered the results, sending the company’s stock up 6% in after-hours trading.

Amazon’s stock jumped more than 6% after the e-commerce giant topped Wall Street’s fourth-quarter expectations.

The company reported its holiday-period results on Thursday afternoon. At the time of writing, Amazon’s stock was up $85.00 a share, or 6.1%, to $1,475.00.

Here’s what the company reported, compared with what analysts polled by Bloomberg had forecast:

  • Revenue: $60.5 billion; analysts were expecting $59.85 billion.
  • Amazon Web Services sales: $5.1 billion; the one analyst who offered an estimate to Bloomberg was looking for $5 billion.
  • Earnings per share: $3.75; analysts were expecting $1.83 a share. The company’s bottom line was boosted by a windfall of $789 million – or $1.59 a share – related to the new tax law. Without that benefit, the company would have earned $2.15 a share, beating estimates regardless.

Amazon also shared its guidance for the first quarter of 2018:

  • Revenue (Q1 projected): Between $47.75 billion and $50.75 billion; Wall Street had projected $48.7 billion. Amazon posted $35.7 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2017.
  • Operating income (Q1 projected): Between $300 million and $1 billion. Amazon posted $1 billion in operating income in the first quarter last year.

The company’s results showed once again the strength of AWS – and its importance to Amazon’s bottom line. Revenue from the company’s cloud business grew 45% in the fourth quarter from the same period a year earlier.

Meanwhile, AWS’s operating income grew by 46%, to $1.4 billion. That means AWS accounted for 73% of the net income Amazon posted for the period.

Amazon gave only scant details about Whole Foods, the grocery chain it bought last year. The internet company’s physical stores, which are largely its Whole Foods outlets, collectively brought in $4.5 billion in sales in the holiday quarter.

By comparison, Whole Foods as a standalone company brought in $4.9 billion in sales in its fiscal first quarter of 2017, approximately the same period a year earlier. But the sales results were actually ahead of Amazon’s forecasts, Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call with investors.

For the quarter, Whole Foods posted a small operational loss, thanks to some non-cash charges, Olsavsky said. Whole Foods earned $95 million in its comparable quarter a year earlier.

Amazon is focusing on cutting prices at the grocery chain, even beyond those it rolled out immediately after taking control of Whole Foods last August, Olsavsky said. But its integration of Whole Foods is continuing apace, he suggested.

The company has already placed some of its automated lockers – which customers can use to pick up products or return products they’ve ordered online – in Whole Foods stores. It plans to list Whole Foods products on the Amazon website and to introduce a customer rewards program, Olsavsky said.

“Well have more later in the year,” he said. He continued: “There’s much more to come.”

Some analysts and investors were skeptical about Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and have been wondering how far along the company is in integrating Whole Foods into the rest of its operations.

Amazon was one of the three Big Tech companies that reported earnings on Thursday, along with Apple and Alphabet. Alphabet shares slid after hours after missing Wall Street earnings targets. Shares of Apple were up slightly, despite a shortfall in iPhone unit sales.