January 28, 2016 Last Updated 2:18 pm

Amazon reports net sales up 22%, income doubles, but stock gets hammered in after hours trading

Microsoft stock, on the other hand, is gaining in after hours trading, despite an earnings report showing lower revenue and net income due to falling PC sales

The online retailer Amazon reported earnings after the bell today and at first blush it was a very strong quarter. Unfortunately, expectations were much higher, and so investors are trashing the stock in after hours trading, down over 12 percent (ouch).

Fourth quarter sales were up 22 percent to $35.7 billion, and without currency fluctuations, revenue would have been up 26 percent, the company said. And the company has now hit the $100 billion market in sales.

“Twenty years ago, I was driving the packages to the post office myself and hoping we might one day afford a forklift. This year, we pass $100 billion in annual sales and serve 300 million customers,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “And still, measured by the dynamism we see everywhere in the marketplace and by the ever-expanding opportunities we see to invent on behalf of customers, it feels every bit like Day 1.”

Operating income also rose – 88 percent to $1.1 billion – as Amazon had another very good holiday season, especially compared to many of its brick and mortar competitors.

Leaving aside expectations for moment, Amazon’s quarter should be seen as kind of the mirror image of many other retailers who depend on a strong holiday shopping season to turn a profit (hence the term “Black Friday”). This was a shortened Christmas season due to Thanksgiving 26th (next year it is on the 24th), so any gains would have been difficult.

Nonetheless, investors wanted more, which is why the stock is getting hammered. But as I am writing this, and as investors read through the numbers, those losses are moderating. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are not, in fact, halved.

As for those estimates that investors used, really? Amazon’s guidance is so wide that guessing where the company will come in is simply throwing darts at a board. If some investors are exiting the stock tonight it is because they were simply gambling in the first place. They deserve to lose some money.

Meanwhile, Microsoft shares are gaining after the company reported their earnings. In an ironic twist, the company is getting rewarded despite reporting a 10 percent decrease in revenue, and a nearly 15 percent fall in net income.

The culprit remains falling PC sales which are adversely effecting sales of Windows. So, why are investors happy? Some are pointing to Microsoft’s cloud business.

“Businesses everywhere are using the Microsoft Cloud as their digital platform to drive their ambitious transformation agendas,” said Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella. “Businesses are also piloting Windows 10, which will drive deployments beyond 200 million active devices.”

Here is Amazon’s usual ridiculously long press release, with lots of claims, but few hard numbers (also, as usual):

SEATTLE, Wash. – January. 28, 2016 —  Amazon.com, Inc. today announced financial results for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2015.

Operating cash flow increased 74% to $11.9 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $6.8 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2014. Free cash flow increased to $7.3 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $1.9 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2014. Free cash flow less lease principal repayments increased to $4.7 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $529 million for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2014. Free cash flow less finance lease principal repayments and assets acquired under capital leases increased to $2.5 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with an outflow of $2.2 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2014.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 490 million on December 31, 2015, compared with 483 million one year ago.

Fourth Quarter 2015

Net sales increased 22% to $35.7 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $29.3 billion in fourth quarter 2014. Excluding the $1.2 billion unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 26% compared with fourth quarter 2014.

Operating income increased 88% to $1.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with operating income of $591 million in fourth quarter 2014.

Net income was $482 million in the fourth quarter, or $1.00 per diluted share, compared with net income of $214 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2014.

Full Year 2015

Net sales increased 20% to $107.0 billion, compared with $89.0 billion in 2014. Excluding the $5.2 billion unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, net sales increased 26% compared with 2014.

Operating income was $2.2 billion, compared with operating income of $178 million in 2014.

Net income was $596 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $241 million, or $0.52 per diluted share, in 2014.

“Twenty years ago, I was driving the packages to the post office myself and hoping we might one day afford a forklift. This year, we pass $100 billionin annual sales and serve 300 million customers,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “And still, measured by the dynamism we see everywhere in the marketplace and by the ever-expanding opportunities we see to invent on behalf of customers, it feels every bit like Day 1.”


  • Fire TV remains the #1 best-selling streaming media player in the U.S., having added over 1,000 new apps, channels, and games since September, including NBC, NBC Sports, Watch HGTV, Watch Food Network, and Watch Travel Channel.
  • The $50 Fire tablet has been the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished-for product across all items available on Amazon.com since its introduction 19 weeks ago.
  • The Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service continue to attract innovative companies, with Ford, Invoxia, Vivint, Alarm.com, and Oomaannouncing plans to integrate their products and services with Alexa. In addition, Alexa continues to get smarter with new features, including local search from Yelp, news sources from CNN and Bloomberg, enhanced IFTTT support, new alarm tones, and customized sports updates.
  • Last quarter, developers added over 100 new capabilities to Alexa-enabled devices. Amazon Echo and Fire TV customers can now play Jeopardy!, get stock quotes with Fidelity, hear headlines from The Huffington Post, exercise with a seven-minute workout, and test their Star Wars knowledge with a trivia quiz from Disney.
  • Amazon announced the first devices available with Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, including products from Brother, GE, and Gmate. Additionally, new brands and devices have joined the Dash Replenishment program, including Purell and Whirlpool.
  • In 2015, worldwide paid Prime memberships increased 51% — 47% in the U.S. and even faster outside the U.S.
  • Prime Video continues to grow internationally with nearly double the streaming customers compared with fourth quarter 2014.
  • The Prime-exclusive Original Series Mozart in the Jungle received two Golden Globes for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy (Gael García Bernal).
  • Over the holidays Prime members made The Man in The High Castle the most watched series on Prime Video by 4.5x. The Amazon Original Series received outstanding critical acclaim, including USA Today calling it the “best new drama of the season.”
  • The second season of hit show Transparent was named as one of the top television series of 2015 by The New York TimesVarietyIndieWire, and The New Yorker.
  • Amazon Studios released its first Original Movie Chi-Raq, directed by Spike Lee, to rave reviews. The film has been included in 2015 “Best Films” lists from LA WeeklyThe New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slant, and Vulture.
  • Amazon launched the Streaming Partners Program, an over-the-top streaming subscription program that gives Prime members the option to add SHOWTIME, STARZ, and dozens more video subscriptions to their Prime membership.
  • In the fourth quarter, Prime Music streaming hours more than tripled in the U.S. compared with fourth quarter 2014.
  • Prime Music launched in Germany and Japan, offering Prime members more than one million songs and hundreds of playlists at no additional cost to their membership.
  • Since launching in December 2014 with one location, Prime Now has grown to more than 25 metropolitan areas across the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Japan.
  • Prime Same Day launched in the U.K. and Germany, offering Prime members unlimited free same-day delivery on a million items.
  • Amazon Pantry launched in the U.K., allowing Prime members to purchase daily essentials in everyday sizes and have items delivered for a low, flat-rate fee.
  • In 2015, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) shipped over one billion units on behalf of sellers. The number of active sellers using FBA grew more than 50%.
  • In the fourth quarter, FBA units represented nearly 50% of total third-party units.
  • Payment volume from Pay with Amazon grew more than 150% year-over-year in 2015, giving Amazon shoppers a secure way to pay on thousands of websites using information already stored in their Amazon accounts.
  • Amazon China launched the Amazon Global Store (AGS) 2.0 customer experience, which provides customers an easier and more convenient shopping experience through single login, unified shopping cart, and local payment. Additionally, AGS selection has grown to over nine million items.
  • Amazon.in was the top e-commerce site in India throughout the fourth quarter, including the busy Diwali shopping season, according to global analytics firm comScore.
  • Downloads of the Amazon.in mobile shopping app grew faster in the fourth quarter than any other e-commerce app in India, according to app analytics firm App Annie.
  • Sellers on Amazon.in sold more in the fourth quarter than in all four quarters combined in 2014.
  • Amazon Fashion, East Dane, and MyHabit return as the lead sponsor for the second season of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, hosted by The Council of Fashion Designers of America.
  • Amazon Launchpad, a program that helps startups launch, market, and distribute their products, has worked with leading venture capital firms, startup accelerators, and crowd-funding platforms to help more than 500 startups launch over 750 products in the U.S., U.K., and China.
  • Amazon entered into an agreement to support the construction and operation of Amazon Wind Farm U.S. Central, which is expected to generate approximately 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind energy on an annual basis. Amazon Wind Farm U.S. Central, combined with Amazon’s previously announced projects, Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge, Amazon Solar Farm U.S. East in Virginia, and Amazon Wind Farm U.S. East in North Carolina, will be responsible for delivering more than 1.6 million MWh of additional renewable energy annually, roughly equivalent to the amount of energy required to power 150,000 U.S. homes for a year.
  • Only eight months after launch, Amazon Business, a marketplace with features and benefits tailored to businesses, serves more than 200,000 businesses ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of its Asia Pacific (Seoul) Region in Korea and its plans to open a new region in Canada. The AWS Cloud is now available from 32 Availability Zones across 12 geographic regions worldwide, with another five AWS Regions (and 11 Availability Zones) in Canada, China, India, Ohio, and the U.K. expected to be available in the coming year.
  • AWS announced the general availability of Amazon WorkMail, a secure, managed business email and calendaring service with support for existing desktop and mobile email clients.
  • AWS announced the general availability of AWS IoT, a managed cloud platform that lets billions of connected devices — such as mobile phones, cars, factory floors, aircraft engines, sensor grids, and more — easily and securely interact with cloud applications and other devices. AWS IoT can support trillions of messages, and can process, route, and keep track of those messages to AWS endpoints and other devices reliably and securely, even when the devices aren’t connected.
  • AWS announced AWS Certificate Manager (ACM), a new service that enables customers to easily provision, manage, and deploy Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificates for use with AWS services. SSL/TLS certificates are used to secure network communications and establish the identity of websites over the Internet. Certificates, which typically cost between $45 and $499, are provided to AWS customers free of charge through ACM and are verified by Amazon’s certificate authority, Amazon Trust Services.
  • AWS launched EC2 Scheduled Reserved Instances, allowing customers to reserve capacity for their applications that run on a part-time, recurring basis with a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule over the course of a one-year term.
  • AWS announced 722 significant new services and features in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014.

Financial Guidance

The following forward-looking statements reflect Amazon.com’s expectations as of January 28, 2016, and are subject to substantial uncertainty. Our results are inherently unpredictable and may be materially affected by many factors, such as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in global economic conditions and customer spending, world events, the rate of growth of the Internet and online commerce, and the various factors detailed below.

First Quarter 2016 Guidance

  • Net sales are expected to be between $26.5 billion and $29.0 billion, or to grow between 17% and 28% compared with first quarter 2015.
  • Operating income is expected to be between $100 million and $700 million, compared with $255 million in first quarter 2015.
  • This guidance includes approximately $600 million for stock-based compensation and other operating expense (income), net. It assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions, investments, restructurings, or legal settlements are concluded and that there are no further revisions to stock-based compensation estimates.
  • Silviya Dineva (@_SilviyaDineva) 9 months ago

    Very useful data. I have used some small insights for Amazon – http://bit.ly/1QnJQtZ to research on how smaller companies could compete with the biggest ecommerce business of Amazon. Let me know, if there is any data and / or comparison of performance: Amazon vs. smaller players?