Amazon told the world last holiday season was its biggest yet, and the retail giant wasn’t messing around.
Amazon posted $60.5 billion in net sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, up 38 percent from a year ago and besting Wall Street expectations. Amazon posted staggering profits of $1.9 billion, or $3.75 per share, way up from $749 million, or $1.54 per share at this time last year.
Analysts surveyed in advance expected earnings of $1.85 per share on $59.83 billion in revenue.
The numbers show the importance of the holiday season for Amazon, as nearly two-thirds of the $3 billion in profits the company made in 2017 came in the fourth quarter. For the year, Amazon’s net sales increased 31 percent to $177.9 billion.
In a statement, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos called out the growth of Alexa as a primary driver behind its successes this holiday season. Bezos noted that the digital brain is now up to 30,000 voice-activated capabilities.
“Our 2017 projections for Alexa were very optimistic, and we far exceeded them. 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 Web Services again played a big role in boosting the company’s financials. AWS reported $5.1 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, a gain of 44 percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year. Total revenue for 2017 was $17.4 billion, a 43 percent jump over its total in 2016.
Amazon called out a long list of accomplishments in 2017. Amazon said more than five billion items shipped with Prime worldwide in 2017, and more people signed up for the program than in any prior year.
Amazon finished the year with a headcount of 566,000 people. That figure is up 66 percent over the end of 2017, when it employed a paltry 341,400 people.
A pair of Amazon devices — the Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick — were the top selling items across all of Amazon, last year. Amazon said it sold “tens of millions of Alexa-enabled devices” worldwide last yaer. And while the company doesn’t disclose specific numbers, the result appears to be up significantly from last year, when Amazon said it sold mere “millions” of Alexa-enabled devices.
Amazon also noted that more than 4 million people signed up for Amazon Prime either through free trials or fully paid memberships in one unspecified week during the holidays.