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I had the report covered on Monday in my "Amazon in 2012" article, where I took a hypothetical peek at the e-tailer's future. If you'll pardon the lazy copy, paste, and italicize approach, this is what I wrote on Monday:
Despite my best intentions, you're still worried about Amazon's fourth-quarter report. OK, let's get this out of the way, then. It was a good report. Heck, it was a great report.
Amazon flourished, and not just because it was already riding a hot streak, having topped Wall Street expectations in each of the first three quarters of 2008 -- or eight of the past nine periods -- leading up to the 2008 holiday season.
Amazon topped analyst expectations for $0.39 a share on Thursday. The pros blew it, assuming that the company -- like so many other retailers -- would be slammed on freefalling margins. Investors failed to realize that Amazon can still dictate its own markups, assisted by the steady trickle of third-party income from its booming marketplace. I am not denying that Amazon faces pricing pressures. It does. However, it is also there to take advantage of distressed merchandise makers, too.
In the end, Amazon on Thursday clocked in at the high end of its initial guidance, which called for between $145 million and $305 million in operating profits on 6% to 23% in net sales growth.
Not bad, huh? Maybe I should ditch Aristotle as a middle name and go with Nostradamus.
Net sales rose 18% to $6.7 billion, and would have soared 24% if it wasn't for unfavorable foreign exchange rate translations. Operating income of $272 million was essentially flat with last year's showing, but would have clocked in 10% higher at $299 million after adjusting for currency fluctuations. On the bottom line, net income inched 9% higher to $0.52 a share.
Sure, sales growth decelerated from its headier pace in recent quarters, but good luck finding retailers who are keeping up.
Amazon isn't just an online retailer these days, of course. It's taken on Sony (NYSE: SNE ) in e-book readers, Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM ) in content-delivery networks, and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) in digital music delivery.
However, it's still driven by the success of its flagship e-tailing model and its ability to supplant a fading eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) as a marketplace for third-party sellers. That's not going to change. Amazon sees 9% to 19% sales growth for the current quarter at a time when consumers are supposedly spending less than they did a year ago.
Go ahead and start doubting Amazon now. I'll deliver the scoop three months early this time: Amazon will win again, the way it has in nine of the past ten quarters.
Other headlines, if you still want to live in the past: