Amazon came in shy of Wall Street’s revenue expectations, but for the second quarter in a row posted record profits.
For the third quarter Amazon reported net profits of $2.9 billion — $5.75 per share — on $56.6 billion in revenue. Analysts expected Amazon to post earnings of $3.12 per share on $57.1 billion in revenue.
The revenue number is up 29 percent over a year ago, while profits came in a whopping 10 times higher than last year’s figure of $256 million.
Amazon stock is down roughly 6 percent in after-hours trading, following news of the revenue miss. Revenue guidance for the fourth quarter between $66.5 billion and $72.5 billion also came in short of analyst expectations of $73.9 billion.
Amazon third quarter revenue:
Q3 2018: $56.6 billion
Q3 2017: $43.7 billion
Q3 2016: $32.7 billion
Q3 2015: $25.4 billion
Q3 2014: $20.6 billion
Q3 2013: $17.1 billion
Q3 2012: $13.8 billion
Q3 2011: $10.9 billion
Q3 2010: $7.5 billion
Q3 2009: $5.4 billion
Q3 2008: $4.3 billion
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) October 25, 2018
For years, Amazon posted low profits for a company of its size, choosing instead to plow that money back into other parts of the business. Recently, high margin businesses such as Amazon Web Services, its multi-billion ad business and revenue from third-party sellers has juiced the company’s profits.
AWS posted operating income of $2.1 billion in the third quarter, up 77 percent over a year ago. AWS reported a 46 percent gain in revenue to $6.68 billion, and the division has now recorded $18.23 billion in revenue during 2018.
On a call with analysts, Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky noted that Amazon’s profits also have to do with cutting costs in terms of new hires and expansion of distribution facilities. Amazon had 48 percent headcount growth in 2016 and 38 percent in 2017, when factoring out the impact of absorbing Whole Foods’ 87,000 employees. Amazon reported a headcount of 613,300 employees in the third quarter, but that figure is only up 13 percent over a year ago.
Fulfillment center square footage has risen about 30 percent in 2016 and 2017, but this year Amazon is only growing distribution center space by about 15 percent.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos chose to call out the momentum of Amazon Business this quarter, which hit $10 billion in annual sales earlier this year.
“Amazon Business has now reached a $10 billion annual sales run rate and is serving millions of private and public-sector organizations in eight countries,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “And we’re not slowing down – Amazon Business is adding customers rapidly, including large educational institutions, local governments, and more than half of the Fortune 100. These organizations are choosing Amazon Business because it increases transparency into business spending and streamlines purchasing, with increased control. The team is doing a fantastic job building and innovating for customers.”
Amazon’s busy quarter was headlined by its biggest devices event yet and a record-setting Prime Day. Last month, Amazon unveiled 13 new devices — including everything from subwoofers and amplifiers to an Alexa-powered microwave — as well as a flurry of new Alexa-related software capabilities, developer tools and other features at an event at its Seattle HQ.
The fourth edition of the manufactured shopping event Prime Day was the “biggest shopping event in Amazon history.” Amazon said it sold more than 100 million items on Prime Day, despite widespread glitches that plagued the July event early on.
In the third quarter, Amazon kicked the expansion of its Amazon Go cashier-less convenience store concept into high gear. Amazon spent more than a year refining the technology behind the concept before opening the first Go store to the public. Seven months after the public debut of store No. 1, Amazon opened its second store in August. Amazon has since opened four more stores in Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco with a few more on the horizon.
Amazon also debuted a new brick and mortar retail concept. Amazon 4-star, which stocks items with a rating above four stars on Amazon.com, as well as best-sellers and new and trending items, opened in New York city last month.