Amazon Earnings: The Blowout Quarter in 7 Numbers

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E-commerce titan and cloud-computing specialist Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) 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.

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

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.

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:

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.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Beth McKenna 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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