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Amazon.com, Inc. Earnings Obliterate Expectations Yet Again

By Daniel Sparks – Apr 27, 2018 at 9:45AM

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Here's a rundown on Amazon's killer first quarter in eight metrics.

Rewind about three months, and you may recall when e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN -2.72%) reported fourth-quarter results that absolutely crushed consensus analyst estimates for the period. Further, if you perused the quarterly report, you'll also probably remember Amazon's monstrous guidance for first-quarter revenue to rise 34% to 42% year over year. Well Amazon's first quarter is here, and it looks like a repeat: Revenue exceeded management's guidance range, and Amazon's outlook for its second quarter implies there's more enormous growth ahead. And did I mention that operating income and earnings per share soared?

Here's a breakdown of Amazon's big first quarter in eight metrics.

Boxes in Amazon's fulfillment center

Image source: Amazon.com.

1. Revenue jumped 43% year over year

Going into its first quarter, management had guided for first-quarter revenue to be between $47.75 billion and $50.75 billion, up from $35.7 billion in the year-ago quarter. Actual first-quarter revenue was $51 billion, up 43% from the year-ago period. 

2. Operating income rose to $1.9 billion

This was up 92% compared to Amazon's $1 billion of operating income in the first quarter of 2017. In addition, operating income was $900 million above the high end of management's guidance range. Management had said it expected first-quarter operating income to be between $300 million and $1 billion.

3. Earnings per share skyrocketed 143%

This triple-digit increase put Amazon's first-quarter earnings per share at $3.27 -- more than doubling the consensus analyst estimate for earnings per share of $1.27. 

4. AWS revenue soared 49%

Amazon's cloud-computing business, Amazon Web Services (AWS), continues to be a major driver of the company's growth. AWS revenue increased 49% year over year to $5.4 billion, accounting for 10.6% of revenue, up from 9.9% of revenue in the year-ago quarter.

Remarkably, this is Amazon's second quarter in a row of accelerating Amazon Web Services revenue growth. In Amazon's third and fourth quarters of 2017, AWS revenue increased 42% and 45% year over year, respectively.

5. AWS accounted for 73% of total operating income

Amazon's operating income from its cloud-computing business increased 57% year over year, rising from $890 million in the year-ago quarter to $1.4 billion in the first quarter of 2018. This put AWS's operating income at 73% of the company's total operating income.

6. Subscription services revenue increased 60%

One key catalyst Amazon investors should watch is the company's rapid growth in subscription services. This segment particularly stood out in the first quarter, as the segment's 60% year-over-year growth marked a notable acceleration over a 49% year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter.

Made up of revenue from "monthly fees associated with Amazon Prime membership, as well as audiobook, e-book, digital video, digital music, and other non-AWS subscription services," first-quarter subscription services revenue was $3.1 billion, up from $1.9 billion in the year-ago quarter.

7. Amazon Music Unlimited subscriptions increased 100%

Fueled by the proliferation of Amazon's Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers, Amazon's streaming music service is seeing exploding growth, rising 100% year over year.

8. Amazon is increasing the price of Amazon Prime memberships to $119

Reflecting Amazon's confidence in the increasing value of the Prime benefits available to its subscribers, a $119 annual subscription fee in the U.S. is up from a current rate of $99 per year. This price increase, which was announced alongside Amazon's first-quarter results, will be effective for new members beginning May 11 and for renewing members as of June 16.

There's more where that came from

Amazon expects another period of rapid growth in the second quarter. Management guided for revenue to increase between 34% and 42% year over year to between $51 billion and $54 billion. Considering that Amazon usually reports revenue at the high end of its guidance range, or even above it, this outlook is more optimistic than the current consensus analyst estimate for second-quarter revenue of $52.2 billion. 

Amazon also expects its breakneck growth in operating income to persist, guiding for second-quarter operating income to be between $1.1 billion and $1.9 billion -- up from $628 million in the second quarter of 2017.

Even as Amazon's trailing-12-month revenue closes in on $200 billion (a milestone that will likely be achieved in the second quarter), the e-commerce giant is as much of a growth stock as it has ever been.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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