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What's big, orange, outrageous, promising to create US jobs, and sinking in popularity?

No, not Trump... think clouds and parcels

By Thomas Claburn, 3 Feb 2017

Amazon.com shares sank in after-hours trading after its Q4 2016 earnings fell short of analysts' estimates.

The online retail and tech services firm reported fourth quarter sales of $43.7bn, up 22 per cent from $35.7bn in the same period a year ago. Net income reached $749m, or $1.54 per diluted share, up from $482m, or $1.00 per diluted share, year-over-year.

Analysts had expected less in profit, $1.35 per share. But revenue for the quarter came in about a billion below what was hoped.

For the full year, Amazon brought in $136bn in revenue, up 27 per cent from $107bn in 2015, and $2.4bn in profit, up from last year's $596m.

Amazon's stock was trading down about 4.5 per cent two hours after the market closed.

CEO Jeff Bezos, in a statement, chose to focus on the growth of the company's Prime membership program, which has gained tens of millions of new subscribers over the past year.

Amazon Web Services sales came in at $3.5bn for the quarter. Operating income for the period was $926m, amounting to a healthy 26 per cent margin.

Amazon highlighted several enterprise customers that have made significant commitments to AWS, including Workday, Matson, McDonald's, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and Enel.

Amazon said the Alexa-enabled Echo family devices grew 9x unit sales compared to the 2015 holiday season. During the company's conference call for investors, it declined to state the number of units sold.

The company's Fulfillment by Amazon service, by which the company stores and ships goods on behalf of third-party vendors, delivered more than two billion units during 2016 and saw its number of sellers grow by more than 70 per cent. The company said more than 100,000 of its sellers had sales of more than $100,000 through Amazon.

In its earnings release, Amazon said it plans to "create more than 100,000 new, full-time, full-benefit jobs in the US over the next 18 months," for varied levels of experience, education, and skill.

That could be seen either as an opportunity or a threat. Two years ago, the New York Times offered a harsh assessment of Amazon's work environment, an account the company subsequently insisted was inaccurate. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing