Amazon's forecast disappoints despite strong 4Q

Amazon shares bounced around in after-hours trading on Thursday after the e-commerce giant reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings in its crucial holiday quarter, but a lukewarm sales forecast tempered the market’s reaction.

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The company said its fourth-quarter revenue increased 20 percent to $72.4 billion, topping an expected $71.87 billion according to analysts polled by Refinitiv. Amazon posted earnings per share of $6.04 on net income of $3 billion, surpassing a projected $5.68 per share.

“Alexa was very busy during her holiday season. Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally, and customers purchased millions more devices from the Echo family compared to last year,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “The number of research scientists working on Alexa has more than doubled in the past year, and the results of the team’s hard work are clear.”

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
AMZNAMAZON.COM INC.1,751.60+11.12+0.64%

Desite demand for Alexa, Amazon said it expects revenue of between $56 billion and $60 billion in its first fiscal quarter of 2019, citing an unfavorable impact from foreign exchange rates. That figure came in below Wall Street’s expectations. The company expects first-quarter operating income of between $2.3 billion and $3.3 billion.

Amazon Web Services, which includes the company’s cloud computing platform, generated quarterly revenue of $7.4 billion, up from $5.1 billion in the same period one year ago.

Revenue in North America topped $44 billion, up from $37 billion year-over-year. International revenue was $20.8 billion.

For the full 2018 fiscal year, Amazon reported a net sales increase of 31 percent to $232.9 billion, up from $177.9 billion in 2017. The company said a record number of customers signed up for its "Prime" subscription service in 2018, including "tens of millions" of consumers during the holiday shopping season.