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Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon just reported $43.7 billion in sales for the fourth quarter, a 22 percent jump for the online retailer’s critical holiday shopping season.

That was less revenue growth than analysts were expecting, but in an unusual twist, the company’s earnings of $1.54/share still topped Wall Street’s expectations. That translated into a bottom line of $749 million, up 55 percent from the same quarter last year.

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Overall, analysts surveyed in advance expected the company to post revenue of $44.68 billion for the December quarter, up from $35.7 billion a year earlier, with earnings of $1.35/share, up from $1/share last year.

Shares of the company are down more than 4 percent in after-hours trading.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos focused on the company’s Prime membership program in his quote in the company’s earnings release, which can serve as a barometer for the company’s focus. He noted that “tens of millions of new paid members” joined Prime in the past year.

“Our Prime team’s customer obsession kept them busy in 2016,” Bezos said. “Prime members can now choose from over 50 million items with free two-day shipping — up 73% since 2015. Prime Video is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. Prime Now added 18 new cities, which means millions more members now get one and two hour delivery. New benefits were also added to the list, like Prime Reading, Audible Channels for Prime, Twitch Prime and more. And customers noticed — tens of millions of new paid members joined the program in just this past year.”

The company’s cloud division, Amazon Web Services, posted sales of $3.54 billion, and operating profit of $926 million, again providing a big boost to the company’s bottom line.

Update: Asked about the company missing Wall Street’s revenue expectations on a call with reporters, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said Amazon was pleased with the holiday season’s results, praising the company’s operations team. He pointed out that the company was impacted negatively by about $800 million due to foreign exchange rates. Excluding that impact, revenue was up 24 percent, which he called “very solid.”

[Related Story: Amazon Web Services posts $3.5B in sales, up 47% from last year, accounts for 8% of Amazon’s total Q4 revenue]

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