Amazon Posts Record Holiday Sales But Guidance Cuts Stock Gains

  • Amazon announced record holiday sales for the fourth quarter but share prices were mixed as guidance for Q1 was below expectations.
  • Net sales increased 20% to $72.4 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $60.5 billion in fourth quarter 2017.
  • Net income increased to $3.0 billion in the fourth quarter, or $6.04 per diluted share, compared with net income of $1.9 billion, or $3.75 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2017.
  • Conference call will be webcast live today at 2:30 p.m. PT/5:30 p.m. ET

Amazon posted a better-than-anticipated fiscal 2018 fourth-quarter report on Thursday, as record holiday sales helped boost earnings of the e-commerce giant. But Wall Street is likely to pay much attention on the downbeat forecast that the company provided for its fiscal 2019 first-quarter. Amazon stock dropped $12.73, or 0.74% to $1,706.00 after announcing the results.

The company ended the full year with revenues of $232.9 billion, surpassing the $200 billion mark for the first time. Amazon is now the sixth-largest company in the U.S. based on 2018 sales.

AMZN Earnings & Outlook

Amazon posted net income of $3 billion, or $6.04 per share, up from $3.75 per share in the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected adjusted earnings of $5.68 per share for the three months ended December 31, 2018.

Amazon said fourth-quarter revenue was $72.4 billion, smashing expectations for revenue of $71.9 billion by Refinitiv. The online retailer had predicted fourth-quarter sales of between $66.5 billion to $72.5 billion. Amazon Web Services (AWS) generated revenues of $7.43 billion in the quarter, up 45% year-over-year, while sales in its physical stores dropped 3% to $4.4 billion from $4.52 billion.

Looking ahead, the Seattle-based company expects first-quarter net sales to be in the range of $56 billion to $60 billion. Analysts had called for first-quarter net sales of $60.83 billion, before the earnings report.

“Alexa was very busy during her holiday season. Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally, and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to last year,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “The number of research scientists working on Alexa has more than doubled in the past year, and the results of the team’s hard work are clear. In 2018, we improved Alexa’s ability to understand requests and answer questions by more than 20% through advances in machine learning, we added billions of facts making Alexa more knowledgeable than ever, developers doubled the number of Alexa skills to over 80,000, and customers spoke to Alexa tens of billions more times in 2018 compared  to 2017. We’re energized by and grateful for the response, and you can count on us to keep working hard to bring even more invention to customers.”