Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Amazon Earnings: The Blowout Quarter in 7 Numbers

By Beth McKenna - Updated Feb 2, 2018 at 10:46AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The e-commerce giant crushed Q4 earnings expectations last evening, with the stock "primed" to jump on Friday.

E-commerce titan and cloud-computing specialist (AMZN -2.78%) reported fourth-quarter 2017 results after the market closed on Thursday that beat Wall Street's revenue expectation and crushed the earnings consensus.  

Shares jumped 6.3% in after-hours trading, which bodes well for the stock's performance on Friday. The stock has gained 67% for the one-year period, through Thursday, far outpacing the S&P 500's 26.3% return. 

Here's an overview of Amazon's blowout fourth quarter in seven numbers:

A young female worker picking items out of yellow bins in an Amazon fulfillment center.

Image source: Amazon.

38%: Revenue growth

Amazon's net sales soared 38% to $60.5 billion in the quarter compared with the year-ago period, beating the $59.8 billion Wall Street was expecting. Excluding the favorable impact of currency exchange rates, revenue jumped 36%. And excluding the contribution from Whole Foods -- which the company acquired in the third quarter of 2017 -- and the effect of currency, Amazon's revenue grew 25% year over year. 

Main revenue growth drivers were record holiday e-commerce sales, a strong performance from the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing business, and increased advertising revenue, CFO Brian Olsavsky said on the earnings call. Amazon's Alexa, the business centered on the artificial intelligence (AI)-driven, voice-activated assistant, performed much better than the company expected, which also helped results. By segment, North America sales grew 42% to $37.3 billion, international sales rose 29% to $18 billion, and AWS sales leaped 45% to $5.1 billion. These three segments accounted for 62%, 30%, and 8%, respectively, of total sales. 

69%: Operating income growth

Operating income skyrocketed 69% year over year to $2.13 billion in the quarter. It grew faster than revenue, reflecting Amazon's expanding operating margin, which is driven by increased operational efficiencies. The North America segment was the star here, with its operating income surging 107% to $1.7 billion, which was more than enough to compensate for international's operating loss of $912 million. AWS's operating income increased 46% -- in line with its revenue growth -- to $1.4 billion. 

148%: Net income growth 

Net income soared 148% year over year to $1.86 billion in the quarter. On a per-share basis, results zoomed 144% higher to $3.75. Wall Street was expecting earnings per share (EPS) of $1.85, so Amazon absolutely crushed it.

$789 million: Boost to net income from U.S. tax reform legislation 

Net income benefited by approximately $789 million from the recent U.S. tax reform legislation that lowered the U.S. statutory corporate tax rate to 21% from 35%. If we exclude this non-cash item, net income would have risen 43% to $1.07 billion, with EPS increasing 40% to $2.16.

A huge Amazon fulfillment center complex showing bay doors for trucks, with a blue sky in background.

An Amazon fulfillment center. Image source: Amazon.

5 billion-plus: Number of items that shipped with Prime worldwide in 2017 

In 2017, more than 5 billion items shipped with Prime worldwide. Amazon continues to expand both the offerings of the customer rewards program -- which provides benefits such as expedited shipping, free access to Prime Video, and more -- and the geographic regions where it's available. Last year, Amazon launched Prime in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Singapore. The company doesn't divulge its number of Prime members. However, it did say that more new paid members joined Prime in 2017 than in any previous year -- both worldwide and in the U.S. This bodes well for future e-commerce revenue growth as Prime members spend considerably more than non-members on an annual basis. 

4,000-plus: Number of smart-home devices customers can control using Alexa

Amazon doesn't break out its revenue from its Alexa smart-assistant business, but CEO Jeff Bezos' statement in the press release indicates this business had a great quarter:  

Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them. We don't see positive surprises of this magnitude very often -- expect us to double down. We've reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa. There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we're seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers.

Amazon sells various Alexa-enabled devices, most notably its line of Echo smart speakers for the home -- the leading brand in the space. Alexa can also be embedded into various types of products made by other companies.

34% to 42%: Revenue growth guidance for Q1 2018

Amazon's guidance for the first quarter of 2018:

  • Net sales: $47.75 billion to $50.75 billion, representing year-over-year growth of 34% to 42%.
  • Operating income: $300 million to $1 billion, compared with $1 billion in the first quarter of 2017.

In short, Amazon turned in yet another fantastic quarter, and looks set for smooth sailing. 

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$113.22 (-2.78%) $-3.24

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.