Amazon.com on Thursday reported first-quarter profit of $724 million as sales climbed 23 percent to $35.7 billion.
Amazon.com’s unbroken 20-year streak of double-digit revenue growth shows no sign of slowing this year, helped by an influx of online shoppers who are abandoning stores and new business for its cloud-computing division.
The company topped profit and revenue estimates in the first quarter and projected sales that may beat projections in the current period, reinforcing its message to investors that big spending on warehouses, movies and devices are all part of a winning formula.
“Amazon appears to be firing on all cylinders,” said Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. “The core e-commerce segment growth remains very healthy, Amazon Web Services was fairly stable even with the recent price reductions, and growth in subscription services and advertising is robust, starting to move the needle, and helping to augment profitability.”
Amazon stock was up as much as 5.1 percent in extended trading Thursday after closing the regular session at a record $918.38. The stock has jumped 23 percent this year.
The world’s largest online retailer is dominating e-commerce in the U.S. with its $99-a-year Amazon Prime subscription, which includes delivery discounts, music and video streaming and photo storage that keep shoppers engaged with the website.
Seattle-based Amazon had 80 million Prime subscribers in the U.S. as of March 31, an increase of 36 percent from a year earlier, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Prime memberships help lock in loyalty, which is critical as competitors such as Wal-Mart Stores enhance their e-commerce offerings to slow Amazon’s momentum.
Amazon Web Services, its cloud-computing division, subsidizes the company’s spending for various initiatives such as expanding into India and Australia, speeding up delivery times to as little as an hour on select products, adding new skills and devices for its voice-activated Alexa platform, producing original movies and shows and testing new services in the grocery sector.
First-quarter sales increased 23 percent to $35.7?billion. Net income was $724 million, or $1.48 a share, the company said in a statement. Analysts estimated profit of $1.08 a share on revenue of $35.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Amazon Web Services revenue gained 43 percent to $3.66 billion. That’s slower than the 47 percent year-over-year growth in the previous quarter.
A combination of better profit margins in the cloud-computing unit and a smaller increase in shipping costs helped Amazon beat earnings projections, said Josh Olson, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co.
Amazon Web Services had a profit margin of 24.3 percent in the first quarter, compared with 23.5 percent a year earlier. Shipping expenses, a major cost for Amazon, increased by 30 percent, the slowest pace in at least six quarters, Olson said.
Still, company spending remains an investor concern. Operating expenses rose 24?percent to $34.7 billion in the quarter.
“They earned $724 million on $35.7 billion in sales, or a whopping 2 percent,” said Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities. “Sales grew by $6.6 billion and net income grew by $200 million. They’re playing mind games with us.”
Amazon on Thursday forecast operating income in the current quarter of $425?million to $1.08 billion on net sales of $35.3 billion to $37.8 billion. That compares with operating income of $1.29 billion on sales of $30.4 billion in the same period a year ago. Analysts projected sales of $36.9?billion in the current quarter.
Bezos $5B shy of richest person
A surge in after-hours trading for Amazon.com added $3.3 billion to the fortune of Jeff Bezos, putting him less than $5 billion away from becoming the world’s richest person.
Bezos saw his fortune surpass $80 billion for the first time, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The 53-year old has added $65.2 billion to his net worth since the index debuted in March 2012 and ended Thursday’s regular session with a net worth of $79 billion.
His net worth will surpass $80 billion on the index for the first time if the after-hour gains hold Friday.
Amazon shares climbed nearly $50, reaching as high as $965 in after-hours trading, after the company projected sales that may beat estimates in the current quarter, furthering an unbroken 20-year streak of double-digit revenue growth.
The rise for Bezos beat the after-hours gains seen by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
The pair added $1.4 billion when shares of Google parent Alphabet rose as high as $938.18 on news that the smartphone ad business helped Alphabet post revenue of $20.12 billion and net income of $7.73 a share.
Page is now worth $44.7?billion and Brin $43.7?billion, the 11th- and 12th-richest people in the world Thursday.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been No. 1 on the Bloomberg index since May 17, 2013.
His fortune slipped $200?million to $87.1 billion in after-hours trading Thursday as Microsoft presented mixed results and slowing tablet sales growth.