February 2, 2017 Last Updated 1:45 pm

Amazon sales increase 22% in Q4 of 2016, revenue up 27% for the full year

Despite excellent revenue and net income numbers, investors are taking the stock down in after-hours trading as analysts had forecast even better numbers

The online retailer Amazon closed out 2016 with a final blowout quarter, reporting that its Q4 2016 revenue was up 22 percent to $43.7 billion, with operating income up 13 percent to $1.3 billion.

For the full year, Amazon saw its revenue climb 27 percent, with net income at $2.4 billion, compared to net income of $596 million a year ago. In other words, Amazon proved it could both grow and be profitable in 2016.

But guess what? I bet you can guess… investors were taking the stock down in after-hours trading. The reason was that those impressive numbers did not meet analyst expectations. In today world, whether business or politics, you just can make things up as weird as reality.

None of this will matter soon. Stock prices rise on unrealistic expectations, and go down based on reality. They go down on the expectation of bad news, and go back up when the bad news does not materialize.

Bottom line, Amazon seems to be doing just fine. Now to the details.

While they are go across the board, it is AWS that continues to shine, with revenue ending the year at $12.219 billion versus $7.89 billion a year ago.

As with any retail business where margins can be tight, Amazon saw its operating expenses climb as its revenue rose. While this isn’t as much a problem domestically, it does mean that its international business remains a money loser. So far, for every dollar it makes abroad, it needs to spend slightly more than that to attain it. This was the pattern we saw for the US early on, the question is if the markets Amazon are growing will eventually be worth it.

Otherwise, don’t look for much detail here, unlike the Apple release where you can track the various product lines. Amazon remains tightlipped about the actual sales numbers of is hardware, but loves to drone and on in the highlights area about new things going on. It you like P&Ls its frustrating.


SEATTLE, Wash. – February 2, 2017 — Amazon.com, Inc. today announced financial results for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2016.

Operating cash flow increased 38% to $16.4 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $11.9 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2015. Free cash flow increased to $9.7 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $7.3 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2015. Free cash flow less lease principal repayments increased to $5.7 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $4.7 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2015. Free cash flow less finance lease principal repayments and assets acquired under capital leases increased to $3.9 billion for the trailing twelve months, compared with $2.5 billion for the trailing twelve months ended December 31, 2015.

Common shares outstanding plus shares underlying stock-based awards totaled 497 million on December 31, 2016, compared with 490 million one year ago.

Fourth Quarter 2016

Net sales increased 22% to $43.7 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with $35.7 billion in fourth quarter 2015. Excluding the $558 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 24% compared with fourth quarter 2015.

Operating income increased 13% to $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with operating income of $1.1 billion in fourth quarter 2015.

Net income was $749 million in the fourth quarter, or $1.54 per diluted share, compared with net income of $482 million, or $1.00 per diluted share, in fourth quarter 2015.

Full Year 2016

Net sales increased 27% to $136.0 billion, compared with $107.0 billion in 2015. Excluding the $550 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the year, net sales increased 28% compared with 2015.

Operating income was $4.2 billion, compared with operating income of $2.2 billion in 2015.

Net income was $2.4 billion, or $4.90 per diluted share, compared with net income of $596 million, or $1.25 per diluted share, in 2015.

“Our Prime team’s customer obsession kept them busy in 2016,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Prime members can now choose from over 50 million items with free two-day shipping — up 73% since 2015. Prime Video is now available in more than 200 countries and territories. Prime Now added 18 new cities, which means millions more members now get one and two hour delivery. New benefits were also added to the list, like Prime Reading, Audible Channels for Prime, Twitch Prime and more. And customers noticed — tens of millions of new paid members joined the program in just this past year.”

Highlights

  • Amazon announced that it will create more than 100,000 new, full-time, full-benefit jobs in the U.S. over the next 18 months, and will include positions across the country for all types of experience, education, and skill levels.
  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) delivered more than two billion units on behalf of sellers in 2016, and the number of active sellers using FBA grew more than 70%. Using the FBA service, Amazon sellers from more than 130 countries fulfilled orders to customers in 185 countries.
  • In 2016, there were over 100,000 sellers with sales of more than $100,000 selling on Amazon.
  • In the fourth quarter, FBA units represented more than 55% of total third-party units.
  • Amazon introduced Amazon Go in Seattle, a new kind of store with no checkout required. With Just Walk Out Shopping, customers simply take the products they want, and go. Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.
  • In 2016, the U.S. Prime program added Prime Reading, Twitch Prime, Audible Channels for Prime, and the Prime Photo Family Vault as new Prime-exclusive digital benefits.
  • Prime members engaged with the Prime digital benefits at a voracious rate, more than doubling the number of video, music, and reading activities compared to 2015.
  • Amazon introduced Prime Video to customers in more than 200 countries and territories around the globe, giving customers access to unlimited streaming of Amazon’s popular and award-winning Original Series, including The Grand Tour, The Man in the High Castle, and Transparent, as well as popular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Prime Video is now automatically available at no additional cost to Amazon Prime members in Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy, and Spain.
  • Prime Video is now available on Amazon.in, offering Prime members in India the largest selection of new release Bollywood and regional Indian blockbusters, Hollywood movies, day-after-broadcast U.S. TV shows, kids’ programming, and award-winning Amazon Original Series.Amazon also announced the start of production of new Indian Amazon Original Series featuring top Indian talent and filmmakers, which will be available exclusively to Prime members in India.
  • The debut episode of The Grand Tour was the biggest show premiere ever on Prime Video, with millions of Prime members streaming the first episode in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Austria, and Japan over the opening weekend.
  • Amazon Studios released Manchester by the Sea, The Salesman, Paterson, and Gimme Danger in theaters nationwide.
  • Amazon Studios was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture (Manchester by the Sea), Best Director (Kenneth Lonergan), and Best Foreign Language Film (The Salesman).
  • Amazon Studios was nominated for 11 Golden Globes and received two awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama for Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama for Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath.
  • Amazon Music Unlimited expanded to Austria, Germany, and the U.K. with over 40 million songs, hand-curated playlists, and personalized stations. Prime members in those countries can access Amazon Music Unlimited at a breakthrough price (€7.99/£7.99 per month), while the exclusive “for Echo” subscription plan is available to all customers for only €3.99/£3.99 per month. All customers listening to Amazon Music Unlimited on Echo, Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap can access their favorite music with new natural language voice controls powered by Alexa.
  • Alexa-enabled devices were the top-selling products across all categories on Amazon.com this holiday season. Customers purchased and gifted a record-setting number of devices from the Amazon Echo family with sales up over 9x compared to last holiday season.
  • Customers purchased millions of Fire tablets this holiday season. Additionally, Amazon brought Alexa to Fire HD 10, Fire HD 8, and other Fire tablets via a free software update, making it easy for customers to enjoy endless entertainment at the touch of a button.
  • Amazon sold millions of Fire TV devices this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote has received over 25,000 5-star customer reviews in just three months, and Amazon released a free, over-the-air software update delivering a new user interface that makes finding what to watch next even easier and more enjoyable.
  • Third-party developers released more than 4,000 new Alexa Skills since October, including ADT, AT&T, CBS, Pizza Hut, and The Wall Street Journal. Tens of thousands of developers are building skills for Alexa.
  • Tens of thousands of developers are using the Alexa Voice Service to integrate Alexa into their products, including Dish DVRs, Ford andVolkswagen vehicles, GE C Lamp, Huawei Mate 9, LG Smart Instaview fridge, and Whirlpool appliances.
  • Amazon selected 12 teams to participate in the inaugural Alexa Prize, an annual university competition dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence. The teams are building socialbots on Alexa that will converse with humans on popular topics and news events, and the winner will be announced at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent 2017.
  • Dash Button is now available in a number of countries throughout Europe and Japan. Prime members can now order hundreds of products from dozens of popular brands with the press of a button.
  • Amazon launched Prime in China, offering Prime members unlimited, free cross-border shipping on millions of authentic international products from the Amazon Global Store and unlimited, free shipping with no minimum purchase on more than nine million domestic items.
  • Amazon Launchpad expanded to Canada, India, and Japan and has worked with over 100 leading venture capital firms, startup accelerators, and crowd-funding platforms to help startups launch products in China, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.
  • Amazon and Chase introduced the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card offering Prime members 5% back at Amazon.com, 2% back at restaurants, gas stations, and drugstores, and 1% back on every other purchase.
  • Amazon Prime Air, the service that uses drones to safely deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less, made its first delivery in December. The delivery marks the start of a limited, private trial for customers in a select area of the U.K.
  • Amazon announced six renewable energy projects during the quarter, including Amazon Wind Farm U.S. Central 2 in Ohio and five new solar farms across the Commonwealth of Virginia, which support the development of an additional 369 megawatts of renewable energy.
  • With millions of active customers, AWS continues to grow, and enterprise customers have committed to migrating tens of thousands of applications to AWS, including: Workday selected AWS as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider for customer production workloads; Capital One selected AWS as its predominant cloud infrastructure provider; shipping carrier Matson has closed all of its data centers, completing an “all-in” migration to AWS; McDonald’s is transforming its digital-facing properties with AWS; the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is going “all-in” on AWS for their data analytics platform, which analyzes up to 75 billion market events daily; and Enel has already moved more than 5,000 servers to AWS as it transforms its technology infrastructure on AWS.
  • AWS hosted re:Invent 2016, its fifth annual customer and partner conference, with over 30,000 attendees and over 50,000 streaming participants.
  • AWS accelerated its infrastructure expansion in 2016, opening eleven Availability Zones across five geographic regions in the U.S., Korea,India, and most recently, Canada and the U.K. AWS now operates 42 Availability Zones across 16 infrastructure regions globally and plans to open an additional five Availability Zones in two regions (France and a second region in China) in the coming months.
  • AWS announced that customers migrated more than 18,000 databases using the AWS Database Migration Service in 2016.
  • AWS continues to accelerate its pace of innovation with the release of 308 significant new services and features in the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of launches in 2016 to 1,017.
  • AWS announced three Artificial Intelligence (AI) services that make it easy for any developer to build apps that can understand natural language, turn text into lifelike speech, have conversations using voice or text, analyze images and recognize faces, objects, and scenes. Amazon Lex, Amazon Polly, and Amazon Rekognition are based on the same proven, highly scalable AI technology built by the thousands of deep learning and machine learning experts across Amazon. AWS also announced a significant investment in MXNet, an open source distributed deep learning framework. AWS will contribute code and improve the MXNet developer experience to enable machine learning scientists to build scalable deep learning models that can significantly reduce the training time for their applications.
  • AWS announced Amazon Athena, a pay-as-you-go, interactive query service that makes it easy for customers to analyze data directly in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) using standard SQL. With a few clicks in the AWS Management Console, customers can point Amazon Athena at their data stored in Amazon S3 and begin using standard SQL to run queries and get results in seconds. With Amazon Athena there are no clusters to manage and tune, no infrastructure to setup or manage, and customers pay only for the queries they run.
  • AWS announced AWS Greengrass and AWS Snowball Edge, hybrid services that help customers extend the power of the AWS Cloud to connected devices and other environments that exist beyond the network edge.
  • AWS announced AWS Snowmobile, an Exabyte-scale data transfer service that customers can use to move extremely large amounts of data to AWS. Each Snowmobile is a 45-foot long ruggedized shipping container pulled by a semi-trailer truck that is capable of moving up to 100 PB of data — from video libraries and image repositories to entire data centers — to the AWS Cloud in as little as a few weeks.
  • AWS announced seven new compute services and capabilities to support an even wider range of applications, introducing the next generations of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Memory Optimized, Compute Optimized, and High input/output (I/O) instances, adding a way for customers to get started quickly with virtual private servers (VPS) through Amazon Lightsail, and delivering hardware acceleration with Elastic GPUs and Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA)-enabled F1 instances.
  • AWS announced the expansion of Amazon Aurora to include full PostgreSQL compatibility. With Amazon Aurora’s new PostgreSQL support, customers can get up to several times better performance than the typical PostgreSQL database and take advantage of the scalability, durability, and security capabilities of Amazon Aurora — all for one-tenth the cost of commercial grade databases.
  • AWS announced the general availability of Amazon QuickSight, a very fast, cloud-powered business analytics service that makes it easy for all employees, regardless of their technical skill, to build visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis, and quickly get business insights from their data at one-tenth the cost of traditional solutions.

Financial Guidance

The following forward-looking statements reflect Amazon.com’s expectations as of February 2, 2017, 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, online commerce, and cloud services, and the various factors detailed below.

First Quarter 2017 Guidance

  • Net sales are expected to be between $33.25 billion and $35.75 billion, or to grow between 14% and 23% compared with first quarter 2016. This guidance anticipates an unfavorable impact of approximately $730 million or 250 basis points from foreign exchange rates.
  • Operating income is expected to be between $250 million and $900 million, compared with $1.1 billion in first quarter 2016.
  • This guidance assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions, investments, restructurings, or legal settlements are concluded.

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