Amazon has posted the largest profit in its history as it posted impressive growth in the past year, reaping the rewards from the addition of millions of new customers to its Prime club, and changes to US tax law
Not bad going for a company that started life as a humble bookseller, before transforming itself into the largest Internet-based retailer, the fourth most valuable public company in the world, and the eighth largest employer in the United States (it hired nearly 130,000 employees globally in 2017 alone).
For the fourth quarter Amazon posted a net profit of $1.8bn (£1.3bn) compared to $749m (£526m) in the same year-ago period. Quarterly sales rose dramatically to $60.4bn (£42.5bn) from $43.7bn (£30.7bn), beating estimates according to Reuters.
For the full year ending 312 December, Amazon posted a net profit of $3bn (£2.1bn) from $2.4bn (£1.6bn). Annual sales rose to $177.9bn (£125.1bn) from $135.9bn (£95.6bn) in 2016.
The Seattle-based company was helped by the strong growth of Prime , and in 2017 alone, more than five billion items were shipped with Prime worldwide. Prime was aided by Amazon’s exclusive television shows (Amazon Original Movies and Prime Originals).
Another strong performer was its voice-controlled Alexa devices which sold in huge numbers.
“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “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. Much more to come and a huge thank you to our customers and partners.”
Amazon is also benefiting from hugely from its Amazon Web Services division, where is leads rivals such as Microsoft Azure.
AWS posted a 45 percent rise in sales to $5.1bn (£3.6bn) and signed some big name customers in the last quarter including Expedia, The Walt Disney Company, Symantec, and Dow Jones for example.
AWS has continued its expansion and has launched a new region in France and a second AWS Region in China during the quarter.
It plans open 12 more Availability Zones across four regions (Bahrain, Hong Kong, Sweden, and a second GovCloud Region in the US) between now and early 2019.
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