Amazon's Q4 falls short of estimates, outlook misses too

Summary:Amazon's fourth quarter results didn't live up to expectations. The revenue outlook for the first quarter also missed.

Amazon's big fourth quarter wasn't big enough relative to expectations. The e-commerce giant also delivered a first quarter outlook that disappointed.

The company reported fourth quarter earnings of $97 million, or 21 cents a share, on revenue of $21.27 billion, up 22 percent from a year ago. Wall Street analysts were expecting earnings of 28 cents a share on revenue of $22.26 billion.

As for the outlook, Amazon said it would report first quarter sales of $15 billion and $16.6 billion with between an operating loss of $285 million and an operating profit of $65 million.

Wall Street was expecting earnings of 34 cents a share on revenue of $16.8 billion in the first quarter.

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In a statement, CEO Jeff Bezos said Amazon was seeing consumption of books shift to digital. Amazon also touted its Amazon Web Services (AWS) unit, its new services and global expansion.

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For 2012, Amazon reported a net loss of $39 billion, or 9 cents a share, on revenue of $61.09 billion, up 27 percent from a year ago.

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By the numbers:

  • "Other" revenue, which largely consists of AWS, had annual sales of $2.52 billion, up from $1.58 billion in 2011. "Other" sales were $820 billion in the fourth quarter, said Amazon.
  • North America revenue growth in the fourth quarter was 23 percent. International revenue growth was 21 percent. Amazon gets 57 percent of its sales from North America. 
  • Sales of e-books were up 70 percent and physical books gained only 5 percent in the fourth quarter.
  • AWS launched 159 new services and features in 2012.
  • Technology and content costs were $4.56 billion in 2012, up from $2.9 billion in 2011. Fulfillment expenses were $6.42 billion in 2012, up from $4.57 billion in 2011.
  • Amazon ended the quarter with 88,400 employees.

Topics: E-Commerce, Amazon, Cloud

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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