Shares of e-commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) jumped as much as 9.9% higher on Friday morning, driven by a fantastic fourth-quarter report. By 10 a.m. EST, Amazon's shares had cooled down to a gain of 8.7%.
Amazon's fourth-quarter earnings landed at $6.47 per diluted share, 7% above the year-ago period's result. Revenues for the holiday quarter rose 21% to $87.4 billion. Your average Wall Street analyst would have settled for earnings in the vicinity of $4.03 per share on sales near $86 billion.
The results also compared favorably to Amazon's guidance targets. The top end of management's revenue guidance stopped at $86.5 billion. Operating profits were expected to fall from $3.8 billion to approximately $2.1 billion, and the top end of that guidance range stood at $2.9 billion. For this metric, Amazon posted a 3% increase to land at $3.9 billion.
Operating profits declined by 16% in North America due to the costly rollout of single-day and same-day shipping services under the Amazon Prime banner. But international operating losses also fell, and the Amazon Web Services division posted 19% higher operating profits. This segment accounted for 67% of Amazon's total operating profits, up from 56% a year ago. Amazon also disclosed that more than 150 million households are paying for Amazon Prime memberships now, up from 100 million in 2018.
Amazon earned this big jump by delivering business results above and beyond every reasonable expectation. This is a rare case of a blue-chip industry giant with a trillion-dollar market cap performing like a hungry little growth stock. As a longtime Amazon shareholder myself, I'm certainly not complaining.